July 15, 2011

Serra Club vocations essay

Life in a Panama orphanage helps youth appreciate religious sisters

(Editor’s note: Following is the first in a series featuring the winners of the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2011 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

By Lucia Bastnagel (Special to The Criterion)

Lucia BastnagelPriests, religious brothers, sisters and permanent deacons give Christ’s love and word to us by sacrificing their lives to teach us about Christ and by loving each one of us.

Priests and religious brothers live their lives teaching Christ’s love for us by offering their lives to the Church and the word of God. Priests are called to be Christians and to sacrifice their life, and they call us to do the same for the Church and God.

Priests have three responsibilities to follow. One is community. They love each person and teach the word of God to kids, and help kids that are in danger or hurt.

Their second responsibility is to have faith. They have to have total confidence in the Church and God, as much as themselves, before they can teach us. Priests have lots of faith just like Father (Peter) Marshall and Father Jim (Farrell). When we receive Communion, we all have faith because the bread tells us that God is with us.

Third, priests spread the word of God. Priests spend their lives proclaiming God’s word to young Catholic kids like us. Their responsibility is to make sure we all understand why Christ sacrificed his life for us.

Sisters give Christ’s love to us by opening their home to us, especially orphans.

I have experience living with (religious) sisters. When I was a kid in Panama, I lived with sisters in an orphanage called “San José de Malambo.” The way I saw Christ’s love through them was how much they loved each one of the kids that lived there.

They took kids that were not even theirs and gave them a place to call home and loved them. One of the sisters that I lived with was Sister Lourdes. She was the main person in the orphanage, but to me she was like my mom.

She gave me more love than any other person in my life had ever given me. To her, every child was her kid. She also showed Christ’s love to us by giving her life to save other kids’ lives. She opened a nursing home, a school for kids in the orphanage, and let kids that didn’t live there go to the school as well.

She also gave each kid the attention they needed as well as food, clothes and health care. She did this to make the children all feel well and happy. She put everyone before herself.

When you ask most people what they think about a sister, they would say that they were only people that pray all the time, but that is not true.

When I think of a sister, I see them as a regular teacher. But they do pray in their own time. They go to Mass every Sunday. Sister Lourdes used to say, “I ask you, God, to bless each kid and give them blessings.”

These are some of the ways that priests and sisters show Christ’s love through their lives to us.

(Lucia and her adoptive parents, Phil and Vickie Bastnagel, are members of St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis. She completed the seventh grade at St. Pius X School in Indianapolis last spring, and is the seventh-grade division winner in the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2011 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

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