July 27, 2012

Serra Club vocations essay

Priest, religious plant seeds of faith to help student seek God first in life

(Editor’s note: Following is the fourth in a series featuring the winners of the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2012 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

By Emily Prather (Special to The Criterion)

Emily Prather“How do priests, religious brothers and sisters, and permanent deacons in their life and ministry help us seek God above all things?”

Throughout my life, several religious men and woman have influenced my spiritual life and taught me to put God before all other things.

My first parish priest, Father Gerald Burkert, and my middle school religion teacher, Benedictine Sister Nicolette Etienne, had a tremendous impact on my faith life and helped me to seek God first.

Father Jerry was my parish priest at Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Beech Grove until around fifth grade. He was an incredibly kind and welcoming man.

Father Jerry exemplified seeking God first. His spirituality could be seen by anyone he came into contact with. He preached to the parishioners to put God first, but it was easy to see that he practiced what he preached.

Father Jerry was always there to answer a question someone might have about the faith or about life in general. When I was in second grade, Father Jerry was the priest for my class’ first Communion and reconciliation.

He came into class to speak about the importance of the sacraments, and how we as Christians should keep God first in our lives. Through his actions and words, Father Jerry helped begin my life as a Christian and taught me to put God before everything else in life.

Sister Nicolette Etienne taught me middle school religion, and was the leader of the Holy Name theology club. She taught me many different aspects of life as a Christian.

She also helped me to understand why we believe what we believe. Sister Nicolette is a great friend and teacher, and her love for God is very evident for everyone who has ever met her.

During middle school, I was in Sister Nicolette’s theology club to help prepare students for “Quest for Excellence,” an academic competition at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis.

When at theology club meetings, she took the students to the morning Communion service on the days the school did not have Mass. She also took her religion classes to eucharistic adoration on Thursdays to sit and reflect before the Blessed Sacrament.

Sister Nicolette always put Christ into the lives of everyone around her, and helped them to seek God first in life.

In my life, priests and religious have made a tremendous impact on my spiritual life. Their ministry has helped many people welcome God into their lives or deepen their faith.

Sister Nicolette and Father Jerry, by words, actions and example, brought me closer to God and taught me to always seek the Kingdom of God first in life.

(Emily and her parents, Brian and Nancy Prather, are members of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis. She completed the 10th grade at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis last spring, and is the 10th-grade division winner in the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2012 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

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