Vocations drive gets boost from generous grant

Vocations drive gets boost from generous grant
‘Delight’ at funding from Hilton Hotel fortune

Efforts to promote vocations to religious life in Ireland will move up a gear in 2016 thanks to a generous grant from a US-based foundation set up by hotel billionaire Conrad Hilton, The Irish Catholic can reveal.

Vocations Ireland, an umbrella organisation which helps religious orders to encourage new members, has been awarded $290k (€268k) by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

The funding, which is spread over three years, is specifically to help build organisational capacity for Vocations Ireland to enable the organisation to support and nurture vocations to the consecrated religious life in Ireland today.

Vocations Ireland Director Margaret Cartwright told The Irish Catholic she was “delighted” with the grant and said it would allow the organisation to support religious orders, congregations and missionary societies in telling the stories of their ministry.

“While the challenges ahead may be daunting, we are indeed excited to be working with the Hilton Foundation and look forward to developing together new and exciting possibilities and opportunities for religious life in Ireland today,” Ms Cartwright said, adding that the generosity of the organisation “will help Vocations Ireland as a charitable organisation to develop the capacity of our organisation, improve the services we can offer to our members and assist us in our outreach to the wider Church community in the re-telling of our vocation story.”


Acknowledging that Vocations Ireland had been “struggling” financially prior to receiving the substantial grant, Ms Cartwright said the additional funding was essential for vocation ministry.

“Everybody will tell you in vocations work you need prayer and the call of God and that’s true but you also need to have some form of promotion and support for vocations directors themselves so they can really push forward with their work.

“We have set out a tentative plan for the first half of 2016. This will include the development of vocation promotion, media and social media training for vocation directors, discernment programmes for those interested in religious life through initiatives such as Samuel Groups, exporeAway residential weekends and spiritual accompaniment,” she said, adding that they are also working on some new initiatives that will address vocation promotion in schools and youth groups.

“We look forward to working together in 2016,” she said.

The awarding body is a non-profit charitable foundation established in 1944 by hotel entrepreneur Conrad N. Hilton, the great-grandfather of well-known socialites Paris and Nicky Hilton. The foundation’s current assets are approximately $2.2 billion (€2.05 billion) and since its inception has awarded more than €1 billion in grants. Since 1986, the foundation has had a particular focus on funding the work of Catholic religious congregations.