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Loretto Volunteer Program Update

Posted on June 1, 2022, by Annie Rosenkranz

Upon the collective recommendation of, and with the full support of, Volunteer Program staff, the Loretto Volunteer Program Advisory Board, the Community Forum and our partners at the Catholic Volunteer Network, the Executive Committee has decided the Loretto Volunteer Program will pause at the end of the current program year. In the coming months we will take a deep dive to learn, explore and plan a new vision of mission work for Loretto.

There is an emerging narrative and call to reimagining coming from the faith-based service program landscape. Here is the Volunteer Program’s current reality: Applications have been on the decline for the past four years; the COVID-19 pandemic brought an even more precipitous decline in applications and in young people committing to a year of service.

Applications for the 2022/2023 Loretto Volunteer Program year were at an all-time low — we received three complete applications by our second application deadline (March 1). This is 70% lower than the number of applications received by this same deadline last year.

Across the Catholic Volunteer Network (CVN), 2022/2023 applications and volunteer commitments are down dramatically. Many programs are reporting that they are able to fill fewer than half of their available volunteer positions.

The Loretto Volunteer Program seeks to center justice and equity practices at the foundation of our social justice work. We are reckoning with the white dominant cultural narrative embedded in community service and seeking to explore models of justice and service work that better support volunteers from diverse backgrounds and promote community partnership.

Given all of the above, it became evident that this moment called us to pause the Volunteer Program. At this time of pause and planning, we are fortunate to be a part of the Sisters INSPIRE grant, sponsored by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, which is supporting us in re-imagining alongside three other sisters-led service programs, CVN leaders and outside experts. With the help of these colleagues and consultants, we will invite the Loretto Community, Community partners and other stakeholders to contribute ideas about the path forward for the program.

So what is next? The Loretto Volunteer Program will close out the current program year in July 2022. New visions and options for the program are expected to emerge for consideration in early 2023.

Throughout this process, the Loretto Community and friends of the Community will receive invitations concerning our learning, planning and considerations for the path ahead. If you’d like to receive more information or invitations to participate in this process, contact us at [email protected]

Note from Annie Rosenkranz: I recognize that this news from the Volunteer Program is accompanied by grief, in addition to hope and anticipation for what may emerge – I certainly feel all of this myself. I hold reverent space for all the emotions and challenges that accompany the “What’s next?” question for the Volunteer Program. I so look forward to honoring the program for what it has been and for what it may become.

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Annie Rosenkranz

Annie is the Director of the Loretto Volunteer Program. She joins the Loretto Volunteer Program after spending the previous 7+ years working in international initiatives and student services at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, MO. Annie's passions lie in travel, all things food, camping, adventure and nature. Her approach to work and life is rooted in solidarity, growing in community, seeking justice and nurturing relationships.
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Loretto welcomes you

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