June 21, 2019

Serra Club Vocations Essay

Neighbors, grandmother and father shape the faith of essay contest winner

By Anna Marie Norris (Special to The Criterion)

Anna Marie Norris“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness” (Gal 5:22). Radiating these qualities, a Christian cannot help but attract those around them.

Two of the most wonderful people I have ever known lived right next door to me. Having no grandchildren of their own, Phil and Joanne loved spending time with my siblings and I. We baked cookies before Christmas, planted flowers in the spring and picked apples in the fall. But my favorite activity was swinging on the front porch and talking.

Anytime my mother could not find me, I would be over there chatting away. Constantly, Phil and Joanne would invite people over. Whether it was college students for a Bible study, relatives for a family gathering or neighbors for a cookout, Phil and Joanne were always seeking out ways to bring people together. They were never afraid of sharing their love for Jesus.

My grandmother is another person who has helped inspire me. She regularly sacrifices her time for others. When my grandparents downsized to a smaller home, she learned of an elderly couple in their new neighborhood whose house was infested with mold and was in desperate need of repairs.

My grandmother found an engineer from Rose Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute who drew up plans to fix up the house. Together, they found others to help with the restoration.

A few years ago, I was interested in visiting people in nursing homes. Upon hearing this, my grandmother invited me over and brought me along with her on one of her trips. I met a lady with Alzheimer’s disease and I sang Christmas carols with a woman who could still play songs on a piano, even though she was nearly blind. I also received flowers from an elderly gentleman.

My mom says I was bubbling over with joy when I came home. Now I visit a lady in my own town who incredibly just turned 100 years old. At present, my grandmother’s energy is being used to take care of my grandpa. Through caring for him and others, she has shown me how to love.

Jesus instructed, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:23). This verse reminds me of my father who has been an iron worker for 25 years.

Iron workers are called “cowboys of the sky” because they sit on steel beams as a crane lifts them off the ground and carries them high into the air.

Through sweltering heat and bitter cold, he has worked to support his family. His job is difficult, dangerous and demanding. Continuously, he works overtime, yet he never misses Mass.

Daily, my father lives out the virtue of fortitude. He is teaching me to persevere in my tasks and in my work, which I know is necessary for living a happy life. To Pope Francis, I would say, “Truly, I have been surrounded by God.”

(Anna and her parents, David and Heather Norris, are members of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle. She is homeschooled and completed the ninth grade this spring. She is the ninth-grade division winner in the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2019 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

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