August 2, 2013

Serra Club vocations essay

Priests’ examples influence student to be an evangelizer

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

By Liam Foran (Special to The Criterion)

Liam ForanEvangelization is a term that can mean many different things to people of different backgrounds.

Even just within Catholicism, different cultures give evangelization different meanings. To me, an evangelist is someone who lives and loves with the strength of Christ and is an example to others in that way.

In the eyes of other Catholics, evangelism may signify spreading the word of Christ, whether through proclaiming the Scriptures or through speaking at Mass.

In Pope Paul VI’s apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Nuntiandi” (“Proclaiming the Gospel”), he gives us an excellent definition of evangelism which, when translated, essentially states that we are obligated as Catholics to convert society and bring Christ and his teachings into every human event.

My experiences with priests and deacons are primarily confined to weekly school and parish Masses, but are immensely pertinent in the molding of the way I live my life.

Every week, I will have at least one religious leader standing before me and teaching me to be an evangelist, or an instrument of God.

These role models instruct me to be an example to others and to be the hands and feet of the Church. They are pure signs of Christ’s true message, to be a servant and to live out his word daily. Especially today, when many people of the world are less inclined to accept the beliefs of others, leading by example is the most effective method of spreading the Good News.

Being a good person and treating others with respect and kindness is much more effective than simply spreading the word. Actions speak louder than words.

I see priests exemplifying this on a daily basis. They have dedicated their lives to living in Christ’s image. They spend most of their time in service of others. I have seen them take time out of their day to counsel a parishioner who is in need even when they may have had other plans.

They will go to a hospital at any hour of the night to anoint or pray with a sick person, or bring them the Eucharist when they themselves cannot attend church. They spend time helping the poor by working in a soup kitchen or other service activities.

Priests rekindle faith in the congregation by setting an example for them through service, giving of themselves, and being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.

Because of the influence of priests in my life, I know how I can continue to spread Christianity to others.

(Liam and his parents, Richard Foran and Kathy Johnson, are members of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Indianapolis. He completed the 12th grade at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis last spring, and is the 12th-grade division winner in the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2013 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

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