Volunteer Internship Program (VIP)

Young men and women (ages 20-35) are invited to live and volunteer in North Minneapolis for a year in an internship with the Visitation Sisters. Participants live in a young adult community separate from the Sisters and are supported financially and spiritually by the Sisters as they work with neighbors who have been marginalized by society.

Men and women from any Christian faith tradition are welcome to apply.

Why should you consider VIP?

Vis Companions

Top: VIP Cody Maynus serving Christmas treats with neighbor and Vis Companion Linda Goynes. Bottom: VIP Anna Dourgarian studying Salesian Spirituality with Vis Companions

If you want to open your eyes to the people living in the shadows of a first-world society, you will appreciate this opportunity to embrace neighbors whom you might not normally meet. North Minneapolis is a mixed-income neighborhood and culturally rich community. Regardless of immigration status, race, mental disorder, or life choices, everyone is welcome at the monastery.

If you want to learn how to serve and be in relationship with the marginalized, you will value this experience of meeting people where they are and appreciating them as children of God. While the Visitation Sisters do not run a homeless shelter or school, they carry out an equally important mission to befriend the friendless, a graceful way to begin the long fight for social justice.

If you want to grow in holiness in your everyday life, you will enjoy studying Salesian Spirituality. Your prayer and studies will be centered on the teachings of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal, the founders of the Visitation Order and advocates for the power of the laity.

What does a typical commitment look like in VIP?

At the beginning of the year (typically late August), participants design their own volunteer schedules with organizations and activities of their choice. They live in community with other young adults. They also spend time in prayer and study with the Sisters, which includes “door ministry” where they welcome neighbors who stop by to say hello or to request a bus token.

Possible ministries in the neighborhood include tutoring, running extracurricular programs, visiting seniors, sorting donations in a homeless shelter, translating for the Spanish-speaking community, welcoming immigrants, and helping men in half-way housing. In the true Salesian spirit, of course, the most important work can be done in everyday life by greeting neighbors with a smile.

Participants are equipped with housing, health insurance, a YMCA membership, a bus card, and a modest monthly stipend.


Who has participated in VIP before?

As printed in Circle of the Beloved “Circle Up E-Newsletter” in May 2020

“I humbly partner with organizations that disrupt cycles of racism, poverty, and violence to bring healing empowerment to the Northside community. My mission for not just this season, but many to come, is to be a contemplative activist for the Gospel.”

I shared these words during my commitment service […] on February 2nd. As an intern with the Visitation monastery, I have the incredible opportunity to schedule my time around three guiding values: community, spirituality, and service.

Circle of the Beloved welcomed me warmly and wrapped me up in their community from day one. If it wasn’t for Circle, I would have been floundering about to find community as the only Visitation intern this year. Whether it is sharing meals or participating in Sunday compline, we are working together to foster authentic community at Liberty House.

In addition to community, spiritual rhythms and growth have taken a front seat in my weekly schedule. I attend mass and mid-day prayer with the Sisters, read and discuss books to better understand Salesian spirituality, and simply listen to the wisdom these women humbly offer during door ministry together.

Lastly, service is what makes up about 30 hours of my weekly schedule. I spend a couple mornings a week at Cookie Cart. This bakery employs teenagers and provides them with job readiness and leadership training. I also support children’s programming at St. Anne’s emergency shelter for women and children. Phyllis Wheatley Community Center (PWCC) is where I spend my Wednesdays. Here I work the front desk and partner with the Community Resource Liaison for various projects. Lastly, I have the honor of tutoring students at Ascension Catholic School in math and reading.

I am so grateful for the variety of opportunities I have been given at these four organizations. Some highlights from the last few months include initiating a teen mental health group at St. Anne’s shelter, opening a clothing exchange at PWCC, and updating a Northside resource document for the Sisters to assist neighbors in accessing community resources.

Of course with a global pandemic, things are looking quite different now. However, the values of community, spirituality, and service continue to drive my work. What values are driving your work?

I said “YES!” to the Sisters’ invitation to move to North Minneapolis, to serve my neighbors, to be the hands and the feet of the Sisters in the neighborhood, to study a 400-year Salesian spirituality, to pray, to weep, to love. And it has been the best decision of my entire life!

I have a pretty ecumenical background, but I’m a member of the Episcopal Church and am in the process of discerning priesthood. I studied English, theology, and gender studies at the College of St. Benedict| St. John’s University. Before moving to the northside, I served for a year in New Haven, CT with the Episcopal Service Corps. In my spare time (of which there is only a little bit), I like to read, write, and bake. My week is usually divided up between Patchwork Quilt‘s after-school program, Ascension School, Alafia Place, and a small, young adult night prayer which I started. I also spend a considerable amount of time at the Monastery greeting Jesus when he rings the doorbell and helping out the Sisters in their various projects.

Few laypeople can compare to the Visitation Sisters in joy, peace, and hospitality, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try. I was raised in an amazing Catholic family, received a solid foundation of Salesian spirituality at Visitation High School (Class of 2008), and studied Psychology at the University of Minnesota (2011). Unfortunately, as I entered the corporate world, I was still struggling to reconcile God with my materialistic life. And where do you go when you can’t find God? To your local saints on earth, of course: 1527 Fremont Ave N, Minneapolis, Visitation Monastery.

There, the Sisters set me up with the perfect job: volunteer work forty hours per week, living two blocks away from the monastery so that they can keep an eye on me. I got to tutor children, visit seniors, and facilitate office operations. I also got to study Salesian spirituality from the women who know it best, and Sister Mary Virginia even taught me Spanish. What did the Sisters get in return? (I clearly got the better half of the deal, but don’t tell them that!) While they managed the house and provided hospitality to their neighbors, I spread the word that their gracious household exists. I was the “Out Sister,” going where the Sisters could not go and witnessing to those who would not otherwise see.

I got to hang out with the Sisters, help them, and learn from them. I was relieved to be serving instead of earning money. I was excited to adopt a lifestyle steeped in Salesian spirituality. I, a layperson, got to live life to the holiest.

The peace and joy that Beth Anne found in the presence of the Visitation Sisters led her to apply to VIP. She was originally from Woodlawn (of Bronx, NY), and she studied pre-med, pre-physical therapy, and social work at Hope College in Holland, MI. She had just finished a year living in an intentional community in Frogtown (of St. Paul, MN) through Urban Homeworks.

She was very excited to be joining the VIP program and was looking forward to a year of spiritual growth. She was excited to spend time studying Salesian spirituality and in prayer, listening to where God was calling her to be. “As my Mom so wisely said, ‘If you grow just one step closer to God during this year, it will have been a success.’ So I guess that is what I am striving for, just a baby step closer to God,” said Beth Anne.

Although a New York native, Beth Anne loved her new Minnesota home. She loved all the outdoor activities that Minnesota has to offer, especially running, hiking, camping, and rock-climbing, and she had even learned to cross-country ski. She enjoyed sharing her love of the outdoors and sports with kids in the north Minneapolis neighborhood!

Kelly is originally from Chaska, MN. She attended Augustana College in Rock Island, IL, and earned degrees in Political Science and Sociology with minors in Social Welfare and Psychology.

She brought bountiful experience in social justice ministry to the VIP program. She had worked with AmeriCorps VISTA at Project for Pride in Living (PPL) in South Minneapolis, taught English in Central Asia, managed cases in the state welfare system, coordinated family ministries at a parish, and volunteered in a rural South African community.

She was drawn to the VIP program following a weekend spent with the Visitation Sisters. She said, “Once you meet these wonderful women, it’s hard to imagine not wanting to spend more time with them!” She also sought a deeper connection to her spirituality and a continuation of her work in social justice.

About her service during VIP, Kelly said, “I love learning about different, equally valid and equally beautiful ways to ‘do life.’”

What does the application process look like?

1. If you would like to learn more details about VIP, please fill out a preliminary application
2. If you would like to apply directly for VIP, please submit the following forms:

Full Application Form

Preliminary Medical Form

3. We will invite you to an informal interview with the community.
4. We will contact your provided references. They will fill out the following forms:

General Reference Form

Spiritual Reference Form

5. We will run a criminal background check.

Whom should you contact for more information?

If you would like to learn more, please reach out to Sister Karen Mohan, whose contact information is below. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sr. Karen Mohan
1527 Fremont Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN 55411 USA

phone: (612) 529-8215
email:  kpmvhm (at) aol.com