August 10, 2012

Serra Club vocations essay

Priests, deacons and religious help us through life’s ‘peaks and valleys’

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

By Grace Hendrickson (Special to The Criterion)

Grace HendricksonIn our daily lives, we find constant reminders of God’s love for us—the brilliance of a sunrise, the concern of a friend or the unity of 1,200 students joined together in the celebration of Mass.

Each of these experiences, in a unique and powerful way, serves to remind us of God’s message to love and seek the kingdom of heaven.

But the most poignant and complete example of Christ’s call lies in the example of service lived by those who have chosen to serve God through a religious vocation.

As members of God’s family, we tend to reach out to priests, deacons, and men and women religious during the peaks and valleys of our lives.

In baptism and marriage, we look to our clergy for initiation and wise counsel. At the end of our lives, we look to them for peace and condolence. Between these peaks and valleys, we rely upon religious to teach us to live in a way that truly answers Christ’s call to us.

In service to others, clergy sacrifice opportunities and comforts that many of us take for granted, like a competitive salary, a family, and an abundance of personal experiences and possessions.

Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God” (Mt 6:33). We look to our priests, deacons, and religious sisters and brothers to teach us to seek God above all things through their love for others.

Perhaps the most powerful example of seeking God in my lifetime lies in the work of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. Mother Teresa was an Albanian nun who, after receiving a call from God, moved to Calcutta, India, and dedicated her life to serving the sick and the poor.

In 1950, Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity. It began as a small order with only 13 nuns, but today has grown to more than 4,000 sisters from around the world. Mother Teresa taught us that, “Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put into that action.”

She put all her love into following God’s path by caring for “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, and all who feel unwanted, unloved, and uncared for throughout society.”

Like other religious before her, she sacrificed everything she had to follow the way of the Lord.

Mother Teresa said, “Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.” No matter how much pain and suffering exists in the world, there will always be opportunities for love.

By following the example of Mother Teresa and the religious in our community, we all are invited to put love into the world and seek God above all things.

(Grace and her parents, Mark and Kathy Hendrickson, are members of St. Simon the Apostle 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 2012 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

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