“Before Imagine Sisters, I always wondered why there had been no widespread vocational outreach for women’s religious life like there is for priests. Then when I discovered Imagine Sisters, I was so excited that someone was finally making it happen!” – J., an ISM follower
That is precisely what the Imagine Sisters Movement is for: widespread vocational outreach for women’s religious life. Imagine Sisters is meant to be more than just a Facebook page that posts cool nun graphics. God’s dream and our mission is for Imagine Sisters to be the locus for young women to come to learn about the vocation, for exposure to religious communities and retreats, help with discernment, a community of prayerful support, friendships with other young women discerning, and if it be God’s will, the strength to give their lives to Christ.
Imagine Sisters is also intended to be a channel through which religious communities can share their light with young people, via photos, videos, testimonies and vocation stories, contact information, and retreat schedules. We want to bring the beauty of religious life to the world, in hopes of bringing many young women to religious life.
In regards to the cool nun graphics, Imagine Sisters works to raise awareness of the beauty, fruitfulness, and fulfillment in religious life–simply by showing proof! The Imagine Sisters Movement seeks to remove our negative cultural stigma of nuns as angry, mean old women– to “retire the ruler” as we say at ISM. And it works: my non-religious best friend from public school told me, “Kelsey, I used to think nuns were scary, but now I think they’re really cool because of you!”
Many people do not understand why their daughters, sisters, or friends would want to become a sister, and even for those who do understand and support the vocation, their sacrifice can be difficult. The Imagine Sisters Movement wants to minister to the needs of these people, through parent resources and outreach, forums for families of sisters, print materials for young women on how to talk to their parents, and informational materials women can give to their families to help them understand and support their discernment of a religious vocation.
The Imagine Sisters Movement is available for parishes, youth ministers, campus ministers, catechists, and religion teachers to reach young people with high-quality resources about women’s religious life. In the majority of my generation’s upbringing, sisters were mentioned only as a sidenote, if at all. So many young, faithful Catholics have never met a sister, and just do not know that religious life is “still a thing.” At first, even my close friends told me, “Kelsey, you’re like the only person under 80 years old I have ever heard talking about wanting to be a nun.” Imagine Sisters can work with priests and the laity to reintroduce women’s religious life to young people at a parish and school level.
Ultimately, the Imagine Sisters Movement exists to rebuild a culture of vocations in our Church. It is intended to move young people to authentic discernment, with informed minds and open hearts. The effects of this outreach are not limited to women’s religious vocations: young vocations encourage other young people to give their lives to Christ, and meeting young women religious often inspires young men to consider a call to the priesthood.
Currently, we are in the midst of a “33 Days for Vocations” fundraiser, to support the life of this ministry. Approximately half of the fundraising goal is intended for travel to youth conferences, webpage upkeep, and most especially for three special initiatives for what Pope Francis has deemed the 2015 Year of Consecrated Life. These initiatives are an on-the-go Imagine Sisters smartphone app, a redesigned website, and a video and blog series about religious life. Trust me, as Imagine Sisters’ resident NON-techgeek (“You’re getting a Mac Notebook? Is it wide-ruled or college?”) I can say that the smartphone app, new website, and video series aren’t just some pricey new-fangled gadgetry. These features have such tremendous value for the New Evangelization, especially in the Year of Consecrated Life:
An Imagine Sisters smartphone app means young women can easily access articles, information, retreat schedules, inspiration, prayers, photos, and videos… all to help them discern whether Christ calls them to be His bride. We want to have every woman religious in the country saying, “Lord, I wish I had something like this when I was discerning!” The smartphone app also means young women who are just learning of Imagine Sisters and the beauty of religious life can share the app among their friends; this way the Movement can spread further and faster, to set hearts on fire for Christ through the radiance of His brides.
The newly-designed website will keep Imagine Sisters up to the standards of other high-quality, secular media that aggressively vies for the attention of young people. A beautiful, sleek design attracts young people and encourages them to take the content seriously, to trust it as something worthwhile. As we also plan to enrich the website with deeper, more comprehensive content written by women religious, a new design will drive the impact this content can have.
Videos have always been crucial to the Imagine Sisters Movement! People need to see the beauty, love, joy, fruitfulness, and fulfillment that exists in religious life, in order to believe it! They need to see other young women living this vocation in order to imagine themselves doing the same! Similarly, blog posts are a major way that young people learn from and relate with others; therefore, a dynamic blogging campaign featuring posts from women religious and young women considering religious life would be an incredible way to aid young women in their own discernment throughout this upcoming Year of Consecrated Life.
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These first two years at Imagine Sisters have been difficult, because we have always been a tiny group of young volunteers trying our best to serve this great need in the Church.
In our first year, Imagine Sisters was made up of Dan, Amanda, me, and a couple of helpers. This past year, Dan stepped down because he began major seminary in California, my own contribution was all but nonexistent because I was taking 24 credit hours of classes each semester in order to graduate from Loyola in Chicago, and the other helpers also became too busy in their own lives. That left Amanda in Ohio, who was already working two jobs at 60+ hours a week in order to support herself. This was the weakened state of our organization.
Just a few months ago, we were uncertain how the movement could possibly be sustained considering our circumstances. We sought counsel from others and prayed to God to direct Imagine Sisters, which has always been a movement of the Holy Spirit, along the path He desired for us. Amanda and I traveled to meet together in person, and during that time the Holy Spirit absolutely swept us away! Our zeal skyrocketed, and the Church responded, as we have gained over 10,000 followers in the last 2 months! We saw how well we work when we are together for inspiration and encouragement, and how with each other and the Lord we can move mountains– if only we have the time.
Imagine Sisters is in great need of benefactors to support the life of our ministry. We eagerly desire to better serve young women, religious sisters, and the Church, yet the problem all comes down to our poverty of time, which is due to our lack of funding. This is why we have launched our “33 Days for Vocations” fundraising campaign. The other half of our $75,000 fundraising goal is allocated for staff wages. These salaries, small but sufficient, would mean that Amanda could quit her job to work as director of Imagine Sisters full time, and I could work as assistant director for Imagine Sisters throughout graduate school, rather than us both spending that time at outside jobs.
With more time to devote to Imagine Sisters, we would be able to develop a religious community membership program so as to include so many more sisters in our Movement– we have a spreadsheet of contact information on over 200 faithful communities, whom we long to engage! We would be able to compile and print resources for parents and families, keep our merchandise store open more frequently, respond to e-mails and suggestions from followers, and so much more.
We need your help in order to continue and fortify the work of Imagine Sisters. We need your help to make the Year of Consecrated Life initiatives come to life. We need your help to enable young women to truly imagine themselves as sisters, and to gain religious vocations for the Church.
This fundraiser is extremely important, because if the funds do not come through, it is possible that the Imagine Sisters Movement will come to a halt, due to a poverty of time. Many are looking to Imagine Sisters as both a window and channel to authentic women’s religious life, and we want to give all we can to religious communities, young women, families, friends, parishes, and the entire Church. We know that God desires more and the Church needs more than what we have already done. Pope Francis has designated this entire next year as the Year of Consecrated Life: will you help us in this mission to rebuild a culture of religious vocations and inspire young women to give their lives to Christ?
If you are willing to donate to the Imagine Sisters Movement’s “33 Days for Vocations” fundraiser, please click here to be directed to our campaign.
Please remember us in your prayers, and share this message with others who believe in the mission of Imagine Sisters!
In God’s love,