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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Corporate Sponsorship for Vocations?

I am a HUGE fan of skiing. I miss racing, and I still have my t-shirts covered with the logos of the various sponsors of the racing programs. Each year, there are certain downhill races shown on TV, and as the camera focuses on the racer in the starting house, the racer's name and sponsors flash onto the screen:

Racer Xyzowski
Boots: Nordica
Skis: Fischer RX8
Poles: Goode Carbonate
Bindings: Atomic

That sure is a whole lotta corporate sponsorship! All those companies are supporting THAT RACER, and of course, the tradeoff is that the individual racer, especially if they do well, will make money for those sponsors. They might not outright hawk the wares, but ski enthusiasts want to know what their favorite heroes are using, and of course, they'll head right to that company hoping to get the same kinds of results. If nothing else, they want to know they're skiing every Saturday afternoon on the same stuff Hillary Lindh, Darron Rahlves, Bode Miller, or Lindsey Vonn are using when they win their World Cups and Olympic Medals.


Well, I've been thinking a lot lately. Mostly because I'm in a huge bind. I have this really unique opportunity to both visit a community or two AND go bankrupt and lose my house...all at the same time!

During the summer, as it is with many people who work for the Church, our hours are cut, and my department is down to 10 hours per week. That would come out to being 60 hours in six weeks. Which, if you do the math, isn't a lot of money, especially when we don't get paid a living wage to begin with.

Everyone around me is losing their jobs, being laid off, etc. etc., so really, why should I be any different? Losing my house wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. It sure won't help me enter a community if I (and the community) discern that's where I'm supposed to be, but, hey...God's will be done.

So here I sit, with this wonderful "problem" of time on my hands. I could conceiveably be gone for a month and only have to use forty hours of vacation time! I realized I had a choice: not pay my bills while sitting at home, or not pay my bills while visiting a community! In any case, the job situation isn't looking good, and so I've decided to cast my lot with God and focus on discernment first (ie seeking the Kingdom) and if that doesn't work out, then I'll look more seriously at the lack of other options again.

So while stressing about all of this, my eyes lit upon my skis in the corner, and I thought to myself, so I thought, "Corporate Sponsorship!"

What if people in discernment had corporate sponsors?

No, I'm not talking about the organizations that help people pay off their debt, such as the Laboure Society. Those wonderful apostolates are for people who KNOW they are called to at least enter their communities. There's whole heck of a lot of a bunch of us floating around who really only want the opportunity to take the next step to find out if God is really calling us. But we've already got the vow of poverty down pat and therefore haven't the means to move from the spots where our lives have cemented us to the ground.

This calls for an ACME Jackhammer. Is ACME available? Or maybe Spishak?

Do they do sponsorship?

What would corporate sponsorship look like?

Would a person in discernment be required to wear some kind of jacket, or habit with the logos of their sponsors printed on it with "I'm Discerning the Priesthood!" Or "I'm Discerning Religious Life!" printed underneath?

Would there be competetions? Maybe cake walks?

"Dominican-leaning discerner in chute 1 sponsored by ACME is pitted against Franciscan-leaning discerner in chute 2, sponsored by Spishak! And they're off! Oh! WAIT! We have interference from Benedictine-leaning discerner who hasn't eaten all day and has stolen the cake from Discerner 1!!! This is unprecedented!

The judges will make a ruling!


As it turns out, the cameras show that the Dominican saw the Benedictine coming and gave him the cake, and he has testified the Benedictine looked hungry! Point to the Dominican for charity!

Wait! We have a tie! The Franciscan discerner gave his cake to an onlooker who had been insulting him and did that BEFORE the Benedictine interference! Point goes to the Franciscans! Sponsored by Spishak!"

And the next thing you know, there would be more competetions, and only the best would be accepted, and they'd have to give up their cake all the time and never get to take any home. Each community would have cake walks and BINGO to pick the right candidates, and that might warp into a habit-donning contest, while the candidates are wearing really large unweildy oven mitts and trying to get dressed in spite of that obstacle. And all the while they'd have to wear their corporate logos.

Parish festivals would turn into Vocation Circuses.

Oh, and if that discerner actually "won" their entrance into a community, well, then they'd have to be filmed on YouTube praying for the success of their sponsors and asking God to send them customers. (Hmmm....well, sounds like a pretty good tradeoff, actually), but that could be abused and the poor postulant could be completely exploited by unethical sponsors.

God forbid the poor postulant (at that point) decide to leave the monastery or discern they have a different charism! They'd have to go out and find different sponsors that would support Dominicans more than Franciscans, or Benedictines instead of Jesuits! Their own original sponsors would be completely scandalized, and might even lose business! The Discerners would be dropped like hot potatoes and maybe would be taken to court to pay back the cost of the plane ticket covered by the sponsors who sent them a few states away to discern their particular community!

A black market might form among sponsors, and bookies would start taking bets about this or that discerner, anything from how long they would last, whether they'd get airsick on the flight from the midwest to LA, whether they were Carmelite or Passionist, cloistered or active, liberal or conservative...and it would degenerate from there. They'd start creating illegal underground races, and the winners would be getting paid off by the losers, generating more Vocations funds for the Vocation Mafia...uh...I mean...Corporate Sponsors.

Hmmm....on second thought, I don't think corporate sponsorship would really be the way to go. Seems like a risky venture.


Instead of creating all that havoc, I guess I'll go with the tried and true and holy practice of begging. Not begging without need, but only WITH need.

I started this week. Because a Sister suggested it to me, I wrote to the Vocations office, begging nicely. They responded, and they said that they will assist me, and told me to also inquire at my own parish. So I inquired, and received a response today from my own Pastor. He's looking into it.

At this point, it looks like a plane ticket might emerge from these begs...uh..professional inquiries. Ok...yeah...I was begging. Let's call it what it is. Because it is begging. When you so Po' you can't afford the "or", well, you're begging.

I still don't know how any bills are going to be paid this summer, and would love it if someone emerged to pay my mortgage and association fee.

For now, I'll worry about the plane ticket and the seemingly impending trip for serious discernment of a community with whom I've been in contact for about a year and a half now. It's time to go. I want to go. And I'd also like to visit a cloistered monastic community this summer if that step seems warranted (both by them and by me). But does GOD will it?

That's always the question. And everything, even to the last penny, flows from that question.

Jesus, I trust in thee.

Corporate Sponsors...not so much.


KAM said...

Ok, once I stopped laughing I could take your article seriously. (I'm still laughing!) My wife and I are in similiar circumstances, not exactly the same, but somewhat similiar. We are Secular Franciscans who are, as you say cemented into place, more or less. She has gone to Haiti on a mission trip, we've both been to Jamaica on another mission, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, lectoring, cantoring, we do a lot. But we are still parents of young adults, own a big home, too many cars, etc. We're tired, and we are slowly trying to wean ourselves from this crazy world, this life that really has lost most of its meaning for us. We'd like nothing better than to sell our big house (we tried already, won't sell.), buy something real small within walking distance to our Church and then just work at the Church the rest of our lives, getting paid some small pin-money type salary, just enough to pay bills. Basically, just chuck it all and be more of St. Francis that we are now. Torn between two worlds, for whatever reason(s) is difficult but not impossible. God opens many doors for us to walk through, so we just keep walking.

Kevin said...

mendicant - it sounds more dignified.

Adoro said...

KAM ~ lol, I'm glad you found it humorous...thought it had fallen completely flat! I've never had a big house or multiple cars, would love to get rid of the little townhome (legally a condo) I own now. But not through foreclosure! There has to be a better way! So definitely a piece of advice...if you're going to work for the Church, get rid of everything first, or you'll lose it once you start! Good luck!

Kevin ~ I don't think this post is about dignity. But out of curiosity, where would you prefer I substitute the word "mendicant" in this particular humorous context?
I'll take it under advisement.

The Ironic Catholic said...

Corporate sponsorship--oh if only. Who would the corporate sponsors be? Leaflet Missal? ;)

Don't be ashamed of begging. It is an honorable practice in the Church, and frankly, not too awfully far off from St Thomas' universal destination of goods.

I'll pray for it to work out.

Kevin said...

please accept my apologies for a clumsy comment. I meant it to be somewhat humorous.

Adoro said...

Kevin ~ No worries! :-)

Moniales said...

Adoro, if you are seriously discerning with a particular community don't be afraid to let them know the extent of their circumstances and simply ask if they could help you with the plane ticket. Most communities give away a certain amount of money for charity and would rather do it for someone like you than some unknown person.
As for the bills at home...that's a hard one.
However trite this may sound really, really trust the Lord! I have seen him take care of things for people discerning their vocation at the last second! Don't let these material worries stop you from following Christ. The devil would like nothing more!!

My prayers for you as you make these decisions this summer!

Moniales said...

I meant "extent of YOUR circumstances!" :-(

Adoro said...

Moniales ~ thank you. They are aware of my situation, and I know the Sisters were going to seek assistance from Serra, not just for me, but for some others as well who want to go this summer.

My SD has been telling me to trust, too, and he's also very aware of what's going on...and so helpful!

I'm just going to keep praying and hope it all works out! God bless!

Megan said...

Came across your post googling for funds for vocations. I've got the hefty sum of 47.5K and health insurance to pay off / buy; otherwise I cannot enter the Sisters of Mary in August.

I have considered Corporate funding, the Laboure Society and Mater Ecclesiae.