November 6, 2015

Vocations Supplement

High schools work to help students be open to God’s call in their lives

Father Eric Augenstein, archdiocesan vocations director, speaks about vocations on Oct. 28 to freshmen at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis. (Photos by Sean Gallagher)

Father Eric Augenstein, archdiocesan vocations director, speaks about vocations on Oct. 28 to freshmen at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis. (Photos by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

Since Father Eric Augenstein became archdiocesan vocations director in 2013, he’s made a point to visit Catholic high schools across central and southern Indiana on a regular basis.

It’s a key setting for him to help people discern God’s call in their lives because high school students are at an age when they often give serious thought to their future.

“It’s important to let young people in our Church know who they can talk to if they want to have more conversations about a vocation, that they know that there is a vocations office, that there is a vocations director,” Father Augenstein said.

And he has been in contact with a growing number of high school students interested in learning more about vocations.

Four new seminarians for the archdiocese this year are graduates of Bishop Chatard and Roncalli high schools, both in Indianapolis, and Our Lady of Providence Jr./Sr. High School in Clarksville.

One of the new seminarians is Matthew Long, a 2015 Roncalli graduate who is now a freshman at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary and at Marian University, both in Indianapolis.

On Oct. 28, he participated in a vocations day for freshman at Roncalli in which archdiocesan priests, religious priests, seminarians and religious sisters spoke with the high school students about their vocations.

Although Long noted there wasn’t such a vocations day at Roncalli when he was a student there, he said that his experience at the high school—especially a class specifically on vocations during his senior year—was “a big part” of his vocational discernment.

“It made vocations, especially the priesthood, seem like so much more of an option,” Long said. “It just made it seem down to earth and not so out of reach.”

To further classroom exploration of vocations, the archdiocesan vocations office has made resources available to schools and parishes across central and southern Indiana that will help young people learn about the ways that God calls people to serve the Church and the world.

The vocations curriculum was developed by the Valdosta, Ga.-based Vianney Vocations. It is adaptable for kindergarten through 12th grade and usable both in schools and parish religious education programs.

Its resources—including lesson plans, activities, prayers, videos and art—can be accessed and used online. Many also can be printed.

“My hope was to make good information about vocations available to teachers and catechists, then to allow them to use that in however it would fit best with their school, their students and their curriculum,” Father Augenstein said. “There is good information available for them to pull from.”

The presence of priests and religious sisters in Catholic high schools across the archdiocese also helps young people consider God’s call in their lives.

Benedictine Sister Kathleen Yeadon, who teaches seniors in social justice and Scripture classes at Bishop Chatard, sees this happen on a daily basis.

“I use every topic as a springboard for a discernment. In social justice, each student choses a cause to research and work on throughout the first quarter,” said Sister Kathleen, a member of Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove. “I explain how God calls us through the interests we have. In sacred Scripture, many of the Old Testament stories [teach] the class on how discernment works.

“I am always on the lookout for young people who might be interested in a Church vocation. I create lots of projects in my class, and we do plenty of reflections so it gives them time to think about how God is calling them.”

Quenton Wellington, a senior at Bishop Chatard, appreciates the witness that Sister Kathleen gives to him and his classmates.

“She has a special connection with God,” he said. “She is energetic, passionate, caring and forgiving. Seeing her have a relationship with God is very helpful because it shows everyone that we need God in our life. Dedicating yourself to God can be hard, but he will be right there with you.”

As faith formation director at Father Michael Shawe Jr./Sr. High School in Madison, Chemaign Drumm helps sophomores, juniors and seniors learn about and be open to the vocation God has planned for them.

“If they are going to be truly great disciples, they need to figure out how to figure out what they are called to,” Drumm said. “It is important to educate them on all aspects of a vocation so they have a better understanding of what it is. We have to make it more approachable and a more tangible idea in order for them to even slow down to think about it.”

The class on vocations that Matthew Long took at Roncalli as a senior helped him slow down and listen to God’s call. He hopes the increasing effort at his alma mater will mean more young people discerning priestly or religious vocations in the future.

“It’s kind of cool to have vocations continually brought up more and more, especially at Roncalli,” he said. “It will be nice to see vocations grow here.”
 

(For more information about the vocations curriculum that the archdiocesan vocations office has made available to schools and parishes across central and southern Indiana, send Father Eric Augenstein an e-mail at eaugenstein@archindy.org or call him at 800-382-9836, ext. 1496 or 317-236-1496.)

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