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(Editor’s note: Following is the first in a series featuring the winners of the 2010 Indianapolis Serra Club Vocations Essay Contest.)
The John D. Kelley Serra Club Essay Contest has an extremely personal meaning to me, both because of my previous competition in the essay contest and because of my family’s long-standing friendship with Mr. Kelley.
For these reasons, and the respect that I have for both the contest and the Serra Club, I have decided for my last submission to this contest to reverse the contest question and focus instead on how Mr. Kelley—as a layman—fostered vocations to the priestly and religious life.
Mr. Kelley inspired such vocations in many young men and women throughout his years with the Serra Club. His primary method of doing so was through his intense dedication to his family and to his faith.
Mr. Kelley was known within the Indianapolis community as a disciple of Christ and a man of prayer with a strong dedication to the Blessed Virgin Mary. His incredible devotion proved to many young men and women that faith in Christ brings a peace and happiness found nowhere else.
At first glance, however, the last year of his life would not always seem to be full of the peace or happiness that he always demonstrated.
In the most difficult of times, when he suffered physically, Mr. Kelley refused to turn his back on Christ or his will. Rather, he accepted God’s call for him to heaven and made the most of his time on Earth by selflessly serving those in whom he saw Christ and interceding for them in prayer.
Mr. Kelley’s work with the Serra Club, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis ignited a flame within many of us to more closely follow Christ and believe more fully in the Catholic faith. In addition, he kept lit the flickering candle of priestly and religious vocations in a time when some claimed there was an intense shortage of priests.
He also inspired many of us to accept our roles in forming a strong support for religious vocations and to build upon his work within our community.
Mr. Kelley was an extraordinary Catholic layman—husband, father and friend—who recognized the extraordinary call of a select few to the priesthood and religious life. He remains a constant reminder of what Christ calls us to in his Church—strength, humility, sacrifice and faith.
(Kevin and his parents, Tony and Jean Zander, are members of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis. He is a 2010 graduate of Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis, and is a special additional winner in the Serra Club of Indianapolis’ 2010 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.) †