August 19, 2011

Serra Club vocations essay:

Student sees love of Christ in priests and religious from around the world

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

By Christine White (Special to The Criterion)

Christine White Jesus’ call to universal and unconditional love is undoubtedly a difficult, yet necessary message to our Catholic faith.

Through the ministry of ordained priests and deacons, I am lucky to have wonderful examples of this love and acceptance.

I can also see the love, care and compassion exhibited by nuns that teach and work at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis—one of them my history teacher as well as our beloved chaplain, Father William Munshower.

However, in today’s globalizing world, the Church finds itself stretched across cultural and social boundaries in its mission and realization of Christ’s love. The influence and consciousness of the significant similarities of the worldwide Church inspire me to a greater sense of global participation in my faith.

My own parish priest at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Indianapolis is a living example of this growing world of faith. Father Varghese Maliakkal came to our parish from a mountain diocese in India, leaving behind family and familiarity to embrace a new ethnic and spiritual home.

His enthusiasm for the beauty and complex mystery of the Mass can clearly be seen in his homilies and involvement in various aspects of the parish.

When Father Maliakkal celebrated his silver jubilee with us in the fall, other priests from his home diocese as well as his own archbishop joined us for a wonderful multicultural Mass. These priests can inspire in us the similarities that we see across the cultural lines that we face, and whatever slight differences we observe can enlighten us to the varying facets of our faith.

The new perspectives brought by these priests and religious simply diversify and simultaneously unite the members of our faith to the beauty of our worldwide Catholic Church. Our parish is also home to Indian sisters who help at our grade school and Masses, and we now have a transitional deacon from India in residency with Father Maliakkal who is continuing the call of Christ and the ministry of universal love.

Seeing this love manifested in the lives of consecrated religious, even across cultural boundaries, inspires and excites me about the future of my faith.

While studying abroad in Costa Rica this summer, I had the opportunity to attend Mass on several occasions. The priests there were every bit as loving and involved with their parishioners as priests in the United States—even to the point of thanking our small American group in front of the entire congregation!

This is love—the openness and sincerity of Christ for all people. The religious who are a part of my world from varied backgrounds, traditions and cultures all move me with their demonstration of ministry—a ministry of love.

(Christine White and her parents, Tim and Kate White, are members of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Indianapolis. She completed the 12th grade at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis last spring, and is the 12th-grade division winner in the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2011 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

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