July 19, 2013

Serra Club vocations essay

Benedictine sister shows love and joy in her vocation to students

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

By Annie Wagner (Special to The Criterion)

Annie WagnerA few years ago, I transferred back to a Catholic school from another school that serves students with dyslexia.

While I was away from Catholic education, I gained a new appreciation for the people whose lives had started molding my thoughts and attitudes. I believe that if I had not had an educational experience away from a Catholic school, I probably would not completely appreciate the lessons and examples that priests, religious men and women and permanent deacons had provided for me.

While away, I missed the extra time I got with God in Catholic school. I missed going to Mass, and hearing the priest’s message intended for a young audience. I missed having religion class and daily prayer with my teachers and classmates.

At the same time, this different educational experience was exposing me to people whose beliefs did not always match up with my own. It made me refer back to what I had been taught about my faith, and helped me feel more sure of my own beliefs.

One of the most influential people in my life has been Benedictine Sister Nicolette Etienne at Holy Name School in Beech Grove. She has been the most visible example of a witness to Christ and faith that God has placed in my life so far.

She is not what most people think of when they think of a nun. I know she opened my eyes as well. Sister Nicolette shows her students her love by the way she teaches and the way she embraces her calling to know, love and serve God.

She showed her students, and all that know her, that her obedience to God is not a burden or punishment, but a calling that she has joyfully responded to. She showed me, by the example of her joyful life, that a life of service to God can also be a life of fun and fulfillment.

I think all of the experiences in my life have molded me to become what God has in store for me. I think it is no coincidence that I had to meet people different than myself to appreciate and embrace my own faith more fully.

It is also no coincidence that Sister Nicolette and other religious men and women, priests and deacons have been placed in my life to rekindle my faith, and be a witness to Christ’s love for all of us.

(Annie and her parents, Todd and Jill Wagner, 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 2013 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

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