June 17, 2016

Serra Club vocations essay

Priest shows mercy to young child after the death of her father

(Editor’s note: The following is the first in a series featuring the winners of the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2016 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

By Anna Isler (Special to The Criterion)

Anna IslerOver the course of my lifetime, I have been shown mercy by plenty of people. But there was one instance that caught my attention and even though it has been a few years since this event happened, it remains crystal clear.

I had just started school at St. Anthony’s, and I was in kindergarten. I was having a pretty rough time because my father had passed away a couple months before of a mental illness. It was Father Joe’s first year at St. Anthony as well. When he heard what had happened, he wanted to talk to me. Being my 6-year-old self, I was afraid of meeting new people, especially adults.

One day Father Joe unexpectedly came over to the school. I first saw him walking down the halls when my class was going to some sort of special class (such as art, music, gym or computer class.) I thought nothing of it; I just wanted to play around in the special class. When lunch time finally rolled around, I was given a huge surprise.

Father Joe had come over to our school to eat lunch with us. He sat right beside me, and we talked about how our days had been so far. He then told me that he knew what had happened to my dad. He told me that if I ever needed to talk to someone then I could ask my mom to take me to church for confession. I was confused. I told him that I thought confession was only for when somebody had been really bad and needed God to forgive them. He told me that it is for that purpose but also for when you need to talk to someone if you’re feeling sad and need to share your feelings with a priest.

Because of this information that Father Joe shared with me, I felt as if I could talk to a priest about anything. I also had a higher respect for God. I felt that not only had Father Joe talked to me and comforted me, but God had also. Because of the mercy that he showed me, I began to pray more.

When we moved away, I lost touch of what was important in my life—religion. When we moved back, Father Joe greeted us with open arms. Every Sunday from that point on, he made it his priority to check up on us. I started to pray more once again, but this time I didn’t stop. Every night I would pray for my family, friends, pets, and Father Joe. And guess what, I still do.

(Anna and her parents, Jeffrey and Donna Cox, are members of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Clarksville. She completed the seventh grade at St. Anthony of Padua School last spring, and is the seventh-grade division winner in the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2016 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

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