Come Together: Catholic Volunteer Network’s National Conference on Faith-Based Service

By Leigh Harper, October 11, 2018

Each November, leaders from nonprofit organizations and universities gather for the Catholic Volunteer Network’s National Conference on Faith-Based Service.

“The goal of the conference is to provide space for those who are involved in faith-based service to come together, share knowledge and think about how [they] can make service an expectation and an opportunity for all people in the U.S.,” says planner Sarah Hammel.

The conference is open to college and university campus personnel who oversee volunteer service, career center staff and staff from the approximately 200 organizations that belong to the Catholic Volunteer Network.

The gathering is held for two full days and two half days in a different city each year, with the 2017 event at Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark and the 2018 conference happening Nov. 8-11 in Baltimore. Last year’s event marked the conference’s 40th anniversary, with a theme of “Gateways to Healing: Practicing Compassion and Reconciliation.”

Programming includes workshops and keynote addresses from speakers from the region who are working in social justice from a faith-based viewpoint. Homeboy Industries founder Father Greg Boyle, Interfaith Youth Core Founder and President Eboo Patel, and Sojourners magazine founder and political activist Jim Wallis have spoken at recent conferences. Workshops cover a range of topics relevant to program management and operation such as fundraising, volunteer recruitment and retention, board development, social media and self-care.

Conference registration includes all sessions, supporting documents and most meals. A discounted registration fee is available for staff of member organizations, and the Catholic Volunteer Network also offers a prorated cost for those who can only attend for a day.

Though “Catholic” is in the name of the facilitating organization, its members come from Christian communities of all backgrounds.

“Over the years we’ve become more ecumenical,” Hammel says.

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