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August 28, 2019 | 9:00am – 10:15am

Promoting a Culture of Vocations at the Diocesan Level

Growing a culture of vocations happens on many fronts.  The bishop and the presbyterate, the parishes and the lay organizations in the diocese (SERRANs, Knights, altar society).  One area that is often forgotten about is the chancery and the bishop’s staff.  This group sets the tone for the culture of any diocese.  From youth ministry and campus ministry to the catholic schools, religious education programs, stewardship and development, the family life office, and yes, even the tribunal.  Imagine a diocese that thought and worked with a vocational mindset.  What would that be like?  In this workshop, we will explore not only what this could look like but practical steps of how to get there.

Rev. Neal Hock

Fr Neal Hock grew up on a family farm in southwest Nebraska.  He received a BSBA in Accounting from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  He worked as an accountant for 5 years prior to entering Seminary for the diocese of Grand Island. Ordained in 2011, he is beginning his 5th year as vocation director and Newman Center chaplain.  He is also now director of the permanent diaconate in Grand Island and is serving as Treasurer on the NCDVD Executive Board.

The Pondering Heart: The Authentic Role of Women in Vocation Ministry

How trusting the feminine instinct can help overcome clericalism and help in assessment and strengthening of candidates. How a woman with a “Marian heart” strengthens a man in his identity and vocation. How do I find women who have Our Blessed Mother’s heart to be spiritual mothers for seminarians and discerners?  What do I look for?

Ms. Kathy Knavy

Kathy Kanavy currently serves priests and seminarians in the mission of The Institute for Priestly Formation (IPF) at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.  As Director of Spiritual Direction Formation, she accompanies priests in spiritual direction and supervision; coordinates the spiritual directors for the IPF summer programs on Creighton’s campus; and serves as a facilitator for IPF’s three-year Spiritual Direction Training Program conducted at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary.  She has served as one of the retreat directors for the NCDVD Winter retreat in past years, and has regularly been a convention speaker.  Kathy received consecration as a consecrated virgin in 1995, the same year as IPF’s first summer program for seminarians. She holds a M.A. in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University with training in spiritual direction and supervision.

Rev. Jonathan Raia

Fr. Jonathan Raia, a native of Houston, was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Austin in 2009.  He felt the call to the priesthood from an early age, but he discerned the call more intensely while a student at the University of Texas at Austin, where he graduated with a B.A. in Liberal Arts and Spanish in 2002.  Fr. Jonathan served four years as parochial vicar at St. William Parish in Round Rock, then for a year as parochial vicar at St. Mary’s Catholic Center at Texas A&M University, before beginning as Vocation Director for the Diocese of Austin in July 2014.  He holds a Master’s degree in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University, where he also received training in spiritual direction.  He serves as a spiritual director and adjunct faculty member for the Institute for Priestly Formation and has also helped train clergy and lay spiritual directors for the Diocese of Austin.

An Effective Discipleship Model for Vocation Directors

Fr. Leonard and FOCUS Missionaries will discuss best practices for tracking possible vocations, leveraging support in your diocese, and disciplining a new generation of perspectives.


FOCUS is a Catholic collegiate outreach whose mission is to share the hope and joy of the gospel with college and university students Trained in Church teaching, prayer, sacred Scripture, evangelization and discipleship, FOCUS missionaries encounter students in friendship where they are, inviting them into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and accompanying them as they pursue lives of virtue and excellence.

Rev. Edwin Leonard

Ordained in 2012 by Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell for the Diocese of Dallas, Fr. Edwin Leonard served his first two years of priesthood as the Parochial Vicar at St. Rita Catholic Church. In July 2014 he was assigned as the Director of Vocations. The past 5 years and under Fr. Leonard’s direction the diocese has accepted over 80 new seminarians. In addition to Vocation work he was appointed in 2018 as Chaplain of Bishop Lynch Catholic High School and currently serves on the Executive Board for the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors. His work with the National Evangelization Team (NET) from 2003-2005 helped develop his ability to promote the Gospel with devotion. Fr. Leonard is a graduate of Franciscan University.