July 9, 2010

Serra Club vocations essay

Joy in priests, deacons and religious helps others consider a vocation

(Editor’s note: Following is the fourth in a series featuring the winners of the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2010 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

By Alison Graham (Special to The Criterion)

Alison GrahamReligious vocations to the priesthood or religious life are stereotypically viewed as bad choices.

When thinking of a priest, nun or monk, people are quick to think of unhappy people.

I was always accustomed to believe sisters prayed and attended Mass 24 hours a day and never had any fun, until I actually took the time in my seventh-grade year to visit the sisters at St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration.

Upon being told that we were to visit a convent, I moaned and groaned the entire way. My attitude didn’t change until I arrived and actually began to talk with the Sisters of St. Francis.

I met many sisters who inspired me and taught me the value of being a part of their order. I also met a young woman training to become a sister at St. Francis. I have never seen a happier, more excited person in my entire life. I couldn’t believe how thrilled she was to be a nun.

Not only did they teach me about what they actually do, but most importantly showed me that they love to have fun. The sisters told us they love to go sledding during the winter in their habits, chat all day, and some play Ping-Pong and other games during their free time. My entire outlook on the life of nuns, monks and priests completely changed that day.

Once someone becomes open to the thought of religious life, they can truly hear God’s call and respond to it. The number one way in which priests, deacons, and religious brothers and sisters invite others to come and see their own vocations is to show them what their vocation is really like.

Once they open up, answer questions, and share their own stories, many people become interested and open to the idea of becoming a priest, deacon, brother or sister.

Priests, deacons, and religious brothers and sisters can truly affect others through their ministry. At my grade school, St. Luke, we had an associate pastor named Father [Jonathan] Meyer. His ministry truly made a difference at my school because his spunk and originality drew the students in to listen to the homilies and learn about God. His license plate stated “GO 2 MASS,” and he would break dance at youth rallies and retreats.

He was truly a priest that my school will never forget, and we will all cherish the memories we have of him. Like Father Meyer, there are many other deacons, priests, and religious brothers and sisters who can add their personalities to their work. Showing who they are is another way they call others to see Christ and discover their vocations.

While there are many ways people discover their vocations, many are led there by deacons, priests, brothers and sisters. They show them the life of their vocation, answer questions, share their stories, and add personality to their ministry to invite others to come and see Christ and discover their own vocations.

Father Meyer taught many kids the value of faith and loving God, while the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration are responsible for opening my eyes to the wonders of Christ and our Church.

(Alison and her parents, Robert and Pamela Graham, are members of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis. She completed the ninth grade at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis last spring, and is the ninth-grade division winner in the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2010 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

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