June 28, 2013

Serra Club vocations essay

Priests and religious can light the fire of faith in youths

(Editor’s note: Following is the first in a series featuring the winners of the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2013 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

By Brendan Williams (Special to The Criterion)

Brendan WilliamsFire is an amazing discovery considered a destructive force. But for me, it is a holy symbol enlightening the path to God. Moses, one of the most holy men in the Bible, had God revealed to him through a burning bush that never disintegrated.

“Meanwhile, Moses was tending to his father-in-law’s flock, when he saw a burning bush that did not stop burning. ‘I must see why this bush is not burning up,’ Moses declared. As Moses got closer, he heard a voice. ‘Moses, remove your shoes, you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Jacob, the God of Isaac. You will lead my people out of slavery from Egypt’ ” (Ex 3 1-6, 10).

The Holy Spirit came to the Apostles in “tongues of flame” (Acts 2:3).

Who lights your fire? Is it your local priest or a sister or a nun? How about a deacon—or the pope?

Who lights my fire? Many people turn me toward God, such as my mom and dad, my grandparents and the priests and sisters I have known.

One priest that has led me to believe and love God is Father Jonathan Meyer, from when I was a kindergartner, first and second grader. One of the things he said while at Mass was, “From when you are baptized.” … He pointed at a stained-glass window with Jesus baptizing people. “… to when you die and resurrect, you should be doing good things.”

Then he pointed at the giant mural of Jesus resurrecting. Father Meyer taught me to love God even though I was small and unable to understand him very well. He taught me that the devil is afraid of God, and I should hide from him. He told me that God loves me, so that taught me to love him.

Another religious person who has showed me the path of God was Father Meyer’s co-worker at St. Luke Catholic Church, Father Stephen Giannini, who was the pastor at St. Luke. He taught me everything I needed to know about the Church’s history. He taught the way Christians should live, such as being humble, merciful, forgiving and all of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

He taught me the way Jesus did miracles, and the mystery of faith about Jesus turning bread and wine into his body and blood. Father Giannini is a great priest, and I think it would be magnificent if he came back to St. Luke School.

The last person that has influenced me the most to follow Jesus is my homeroom teacher’s aide, Sister Amelia. She helps me turn to God by not even trying. She is easily the sweetest person I have ever met.

She helps my whole class by just being in the room and by being kind and loving. She watches us at lunch and she even took a vow of poverty, meaning she cannot take money.

A while ago, Sister Amelia left for India, her homeland, because her mother was very ill. The whole St. Luke Middle School community contributed more than enough for her trip. In doing so, we learned that by being joyful and kind to us, Sister Amelia taught us, without even trying, to be generous.

So in this Year of Faith, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI asked that we reflect upon our faithfulness to Jesus. He asked us to pray in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit and to Mary, the Virgin Mother of God.

Remember that God lights the way with fire. “The Lord preceded them, in the daytime by means of a column of cloud to show them the way, and at night by means of a column of fire to give them light. Thus they could travel both day and night” (Ex 13:21).

So wherever you go, whatever you do, be loyal to God, and follow him home.

(Brendan and his parents, Michael and Michelle Williams, are members of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis. He completed the seventh grade at St. Luke School last spring, and is the seventh-grade division winner in the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2013 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

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