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(Editor’s note: Following is the third in a series featuring the winners of the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2010 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to become a priest, deacon, or religious brother or sister? Who has influenced you to learn or think about the possibility of becoming one? What brought these people to the vocation they have now, and how did they decide on this life? Who helped them find Christ?
These questions have gone through my head plenty of times. Priests, deacons, and religious brothers and sisters have invited me to come and see and love God through a religious vocation. When I was a little girl, many priests, deacons, and religious brothers and sisters helped me envision what a life devoted to God would be like.
Several priests have impacted me and my thoughts about my religious vocations: Father Joseph Newton and Father Noah Casey, who are currently the priests at St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis; Father Jonathan Meyer, who left last year [to minister in southern Indiana]; and Father Justin Martin, who sadly passed away when I was little.
No matter what age or situation, each priest played a critical and essential part to my growth as a Catholic.
Father Joe currently aids me in learning about my faith by instructing my fellow classmates and me in our confirmation classes. In these classes, he teaches us new material about the sacrament that will further help us on our way to being confirmed.
Father Noah helps me find my vocation by leading the St. Luke community in weekend Masses. Father Noah, along with Father Joe, also celebrates school Masses for the students. On Tuesdays, grades 1-4 celebrate Mass. On Wednesdays, the fifth- through eighth- graders rejoice at Mass. Finally, on Fridays, all grades, 1-8, celebrate Mass together.
Last year, Father Meyer had an amazing effect on me as well. He is a priest that I will never forget. Father Meyer brought the teachings of Jesus, the mysteries, the miracles, and the suffering of Jesus down to a level that we, as seventh graders, could understand, comprehend and know what Jesus did to save us. He took the knowledge about God and phrased it so not only could we understand them, but kids who were younger than us could as well.
Father Meyer took Jesus’ teachings, stories and miracles, and put them in a context that we could grasp. He would use everyday events so we could make a better image in our minds.
Finally, Father Martin. Although Father Martin died, he left an everlasting mark on me. What makes Father Martin and me so close is that he guided me in my first Communion. Though I didn’t receive my first Eucharist from him, it was still a distinctive and unique memory.
I have powerful memories about deacons. I personally have grown up with a deacon, my grandfather, Deacon Jerry, who has always been there at my religious events. I received my first Communion from him, which made the occasion more special. Another time I saw my grandfather doing his deacon duties was when I witnessed the baptism of my youngest cousin, Lily.
What made it all the more incredible was that I was Lily’s godmother. I participated in the blessings and stood up at the altar watching not only Lily, but my grandfather as well. He looked so comfortable and reverent by the altar doing what he loves.
However, I think of him as a regular grandfather whenever he and I play board games such as Bingo and Checkers. Having a religious figure in the family truly makes me consider becoming a sister.
I have had many experiences with a sister. St. Joseph Sister Jane Frances Mannion [who previously ministered in the parish] was important in my childhood. Sister Jane and my mother would volunteer their time every Thursday making soup for the hungry. I heard wonderful stories about these “Soup Suppers.” After every Mass, Sister Jane would be outside the church, in the narthex, waiting to greet people afterward. She was a magnificent person, and fully dedicated her life to God.
I am so blessed to have many religious figures in my life that help me consider the religious life. I am truly grateful for their time and love for others and God. It is because of them that I am closer to God, and am deliberating about becoming a sister.
These people have come into my life to help me become closer to God, no matter if I choose to be a sister or not. They have been sent by God to help me find the right path for myself. I am so appreciative that I have these marvelous mentors in my life to direct me to God and decide the right life for me.
These people have shown me a glimpse of what a religious life would be like. They have invited me to come and see God, and I may, one day, accept their invitation.
(Abigail and her parents, Anthony and Maribeth Hart, are members of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis. She completed the eighth grade at St. Luke School in Indianapolis last spring, and is the eighth-grade division winner in the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2010 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.) †