August 8, 2014

Serra Club vocations essay

Priests, deacons and religious show God’s love in ‘chaotic, complex world’

(Editor’s note: Following is the sixth in a series featuring the winners of the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2014 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

By Michael Melbardis (Special to The Criterion)

Michael MelbardisIn the Gospel of John, Jesus proclaims to the Apostles before the Last Supper, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:34-35).

In these profound words, Jesus commands us to love as he loves—to bring God’s love to others in our daily lives. In today’s chaotic, complex world, it can become easy to lose sight of what these powerful words mean. Despite this, priests, religious brothers and sisters and permanent deacons help us follow in Jesus’ footsteps and provide us with a unique perception of God’s love.

They encourage us to consider how we can better live out God’s call to love in our lives through our own unique vocations. Priests, religious brothers and sisters and permanent deacons, through their lives and ministries, witness and respond to Christ’s calling of love for us in many different ways throughout our local and worldwide communities.

For those who choose the religious life or holy orders, they promise to live, love, and serve like Christ. Priests, religious and deacons are instruments of God’s love and allow the Holy Spirit to work through them to make his love known to others.

In our local community, especially in parish communities, priests and permanent deacons answer Christ’s call to love every time they proclaim the Gospel and lead us in prayer at Mass. By celebrating the Eucharist and serving as chaplains for athletic teams, hospitals, prisons and the military, priests act as witnesses of God’s love in order to bring hope to those going through difficult times and to point to the presence of Christ.

In addition, priests bring God’s forgiveness to us in the sacrament of reconciliation and invite us to respond to Christ’s call to love one another. Along with priests, deacons often serve as catechists and counselors and also assist at parish and liturgical ministries, such as the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) program. They reveal God’s everlasting love by providing support and guidance for those who are preparing to enter the Catholic faith.

Outside parish communities, religious brothers and sisters live out Christ’s call to love in much the same way. Many serve as missionaries in foreign lands, working to establish schools, care for the sick and serve the poor. Acting as teachers, caretakers and nurses, they bring God’s love to people of all ages and of all backgrounds.

Priests, religious brothers and sisters and permanent deacons stand with us through all of life’s hardships, joys, and sorrows to be witnesses of and respond to Christ’s love.

Whether they are serving as teachers, catechists, administrators, pastors or counselors, those who choose the religious life or holy orders call us to holiness by living out Christ’s call to love others.

By looking to them as examples for our lives, we can also respond to Christ’s invitation of love and live as faithful disciples who contribute passionately to the world, for “if God so loved us, we also must love one another” (1 Jn 4:11).

(Michael and his parents, Andrew and Jean Melbardis, are members of St. Simon the Apostle Parish. He 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 2014 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)


Related: Read more vocations stories from our archives

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