July 29, 2011

Serra Club vocations essay

Priests, religious sisters and brothers and deacons are witnesses of God’s love

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

By Michael Melbardis (Special to The Criterion)

Michael Melbardis“I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:34-35).

In these familiar words, Jesus commands us to love as he loves—to bring God’s love to others in our daily lives.

In today’s world, it can become very easy to lose sight of what these powerful words mean.

Despite this, priests, religious brothers and sisters and permanent deacons help us follow in Jesus’ footsteps and provide us with a unique perception of God’s love.

They encourage us to consider how we can better live out God’s will in our own lives and through our own unique vocations.

Priests, religious brothers and sisters, and permanent deacons, through their life and ministry, live out Christ’s call to love and witness his love for us in many different ways throughout our local and worldwide communities.

For those who choose the religious life or holy orders, they promise to live, love and serve like Christ. Priests, religious, and deacons are instruments of God’s work, and allow the Holy Spirit to work through them to make God known to others.

In our local community, especially in the parish community, priests and permanent deacons bring Christ to us every time we attend Mass by proclaiming the Gospel and leading us in prayer.

Priests also celebrate the Eucharist and serve as chaplains for athletic teams, hospitals, prisons and the military to bring hope to those going through difficult times and to point to the presence of Christ. They bring God’s forgiveness to us in the sacrament of reconciliation and call us to live Christ’s call to love one another.

Deacons often serve as catechists and counselors and also assist at parish and liturgical ministries, such as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program. They provide support and guidance for those who are preparing to enter the Catholic faith.

Outside the parish community, religious brothers and sisters live out Christ’s call to love in much the same way. Many even act as missionaries to bring God’s love to those in foreign lands by establishing religious schools, caring for the sick and serving the poor. They act as teachers, caretakers and nurses for people of all ages and of all backgrounds.

Priests, religious brothers and sisters and permanent deacons stand with us through all of life’s hardships, joys and sorrows to be witnesses of Christ’s love for us.

Whether they are serving as teachers, catechists, administrators, pastors or counselors, those who choose religious life call us to holiness by living out Christ’s call to love others.

By looking to them as examples for our lives, we can also be witnesses to Christ’s love for others. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

(Michael and his parents, Andrew and Jean Melbardis, are members of St. Simon the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis. He completed the ninth grade at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis last spring, and is the ninth-grade division winner in the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2011 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

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