June 15, 2018

Serra Club Vocations Essay

Priest helps St. Mary students grow in faith and ‘turn to God’ in prayer

By Sophia Curry (Special to The Criterion)

Sophia Curry“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this; to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:12-13).

Father Jerry Byrd joined the St. Mary family [in North Vernon] in 2014. He has helped St. Mary School in so many ways, and the students and staff are thankful in countless ways.

Father Jerry leads and acts as a good shepherd to each and every student at St. Mary. He is a great role model, and I consider myself lucky to be helped and taught by him.

“God will meet your needs” (Phil 4:9). A couple of years ago, my parents were going through a divorce. I tried to handle it the best I could, but ended up feeling as though I had no one to turn to.

Father Jerry calmly talked me through it all and helped me see that God was always there for me. Since then, I have been inspired to pray more and turn to God.

Through it all, God has accompanied me through the good and bad times. He has answered more prayers than I’m sure I deserved. And I owe it all to Father Jerry for helping me turn to God.

Sitting in Mass may seem boring to some, but you really do learn something every day. The points and opinions Father Jerry has and makes really hit home. He includes his own personal experience so all can understand.

His homilies touch our hearts and minds so that we might understand that everything God has planned and has done has a purpose. Father Jerry treats every single beautiful individual with respect, kindness and charity. He treats us as family.

Younger children may not understand it yet, but every little thing Father Jerry teaches us is so important. Every ounce of faith in us is crucial if we wish to reach the gates of heaven.

Father Jerry makes sure that faith is our number one priority and it shows. Everyone who Father Jerry teaches has a handprint on their heart. It comes from the outstretched hand of God. God lives in all of us.

God’s plan is greater than we can even wrap our minds around. He sends priests and consecrated religious to help him achieve that plan. Some may think they know better, but it always comes back to God.

Sometimes we might not be able to see that, but God gave us Father Jerry to bring us back to himself. “And Jesus answering, said to them, ‘Have faith in God’ ” (Mk 11:22).

(Sophia and her parents, Nicole and Ryan Curry, are members of St. Mary Parish in North Vernon. She completed the seventh grade at St. Mary in North Vernon last spring, and is the seventh-grade division winner in the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2018 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

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