About the Author
Hi, I’m Rhonda Gruenewald, founder of Vocation Ministry. I come from a one-stoplight town about 30 miles north of Houston, Texas, where we have two types of music: Country and Western.
Unfortunately, my family did not emphasize faith. Okay, that is putting a positive spin on things. My father did not want the Bible read in the house, and my mother was Methodist. We rarely went to church; God was never mentioned, and my parents divorced when I was 12.
Eventually, I graduated from the University of Texas in Austin before teaching English and coaching speech and debate at a large public high school. During that same time, I was baptized and attended a Methodist church, and the next year I met David my husband. Thankfully, he was Catholic enough to say, “I can’t get married over there.”
After we married, we found a parish home, and I went through RCIA while pregnant with Abby our daughter. Instead of coming into the Church at the Easter Vigil, I gave birth that night.
You might be asking yourself how this convert got into the work of vocations. The call that started it all happened in the fall of 2011. Our brand-new, filled-with-the-Holy-Spirit parochial vicar Fr. Victor Perez had seen me around campus, at youth retreats, and praying in front of Planned Parenthood, so he called me about 3 hours before that first meeting to see if my husband and I could attend a meeting about priests and such- very vague. We felt we were called by name, so we said yes. I have a confession to make; I did not know what the word Vocation meant in the Catholic context at that time!
Though I was new to the world of vocations, after hearing Father Victor’s enthusiasm for the success of the committee that he felt was one of the most important at any parish, I was hooked!
I went home and scoured the internet and read anything I could about vocations. I found several web sites with various activities, but nothing comprehensive about how to start or revive a parish-based committee, just bits and pieces. Our ministry had no guide to follow, so we tread our own path and let the Holy Spirit guide us.
After hosting different activities every month at our parish for several years, the leadership in the Archdiocese asked me to consult with them about how to bring our model of a vocation ministry to every parish in Houston. So, in December of 2013, I said maybe I could write a pamphlet, a short road map for how to have a successful parish vocation committee or ministry. 17 months later, it was a professionally edited book with its imprimatur. The Holy Spirit has been working overtime!
Hundredfold: A Guide to Parish Vocation Ministry was published in June 2015 with its companion website VocationMinistry.com. Then Vocation Directors started asking me to speak to their priests and parishioners, so Vocation Ministry, the nonprofit, was born. At our signature Hundredfold workshops in English and Spanish, I have been asked many times, “Do you have any resources specific for schools?” In 2021, I was able to say “YES”! The Harvest: A Guide to Vocation Ministry in Education was published and ready to inspire those who want to foster vocations within the students in front of them.
So far, we have trained thousands of priests and laity, representing over 4,000 parishes and 50 schools in over 50 dioceses on how to create a culture of vocations so that men and women can more easily answer God’s call.
My plan was never to write books, launch a website, or speak to Catholics around the country about Vocation Ministry, but God’s plans are always better than our own. Vocation Ministry continues to create an abundance of effective, hands-on, easy-to-implement resources to foster the promotion of vocations in parishes and in families. From our website to our bilingual Hundredfold Resource Book, we have created a way for any parish, school, or classroom easily to begin vocation promotion, grow the ministry over time, and infuse the beauty and joy of vocations into the life of the parish or school.