Women who are searching for the next step in their spiritual lives will have the opportunity to foster this discovery in a seven-week discernment program being led by Sr. M. Consolata Crews this semester at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Entitled Love’s Reply, this new series is meant to be a tool for Franciscan women to foster an openness in their hearts and to awaken in them an awareness of the plans that God has in store for them, said Crews.
As a dorm chaplain and spiritual director on campus, Crews acknowledged the need for support of women’s discernment on campus.
“There is no pressure in this,” said Crews. “This is a help, a resource; it’s a journey of (looking to see) if one is really open to being transformed by (God).”
The main purpose of the series is not to enable women to leave with a perfect knowledge of what their vocation is, Crews said.
“It’s meant to assist women, even before getting to the question of what their vocation or discernment is,” Crews said. “(It’s) a foundation of relationship with Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit.”
This weekly program will provide women on campus with a chance to build a strong support community amongst themselves. They will be able to accompany one another on their journey towards discovery of who they are, said Crews.
“On their part, it’s going to take openness to the Lord,” said Crews. “Coming to know who they are, who he is, and, when those two come together, ‘what is my response?’”
Crews said that the fruits of the program are dependent on each woman and how she responds to the call of God.
“Some women may come with an expectation and the Lord may surprise them and lead them one way versus another,” said Crews. “But that’s the beauty of self-knowledge and knowledge of (the Lord). … Part of what the discernment group will hold is what each woman will bring to it.”
Each week, there will be a new topic presented and an opportunity for prayer and discussion. It will be broken up into small groups so that the participants may share with one another on personal levels.
The objective of the series is to enable the participants to come to a fuller knowledge of God.
“This is something that will give the women … an opportunity to really seek to know God and to say, ‘what’s the next step that he’s inviting me into?’” said Crews.
Young people may struggle with discernment, allowing it to go on and on without any definite conclusion. This group is meant to be a tool to help mold that process so that it does not continue indefinitely.
“Discernment is not forever,” said Crews. “It has to keep moving.”
Crews is thrilled to be a part of Love’s Reply. She is using the program as a way to pray and intercede for the women at Franciscan.
“I am honored to journey with these women and (just) excited to see what God is going to do,” she said. “And also, to see where he will lead us as a group (and) also individually.”
Crews wanted to offer a discernment group for women because she realized that there is a very real need to help and encourage those in discernment. Although there is a women’s household for discernment on campus — Mary, Spouse of the Spirit — she realized that it is not for everyone.
“There are … women who are discerning in more than one household,” said Crews. “Everyone is seeking (to know): ‘what does God want in my life?’”
Love’s Reply will enable women to build that initial foundation with God that is necessary for a relationship, said Crews. Once that foundation is grounded, then the women of Franciscan can properly seek the will of God in their lives.
From Feb. 4 to April 2, the discernment group meets on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. and Thursdays at 3:30 p.m. Women are invited to come within the first or second week, but after that time, the group will close, as the foundations of the first weeks are necessary in order to continue.