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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Students Learn About Vocations

UPDATE: The sisters in the photo to the left are members of the Trinitarians of Mary. For more information about their order go to their website - HERE. (H/t to the Anchoress!)

From Grand Rapids Press
by Aaron Ogg

Photo at left: Vista Charter Academy student Mitzie Guillen, who wants to become a nun, laughs with Sister Veronica Escudero, center, and Sister Ines Shoskey, right. They were listening the Rev. Dominic Grassi, at a rally on Saturday at Catholic Central High School.

GRAND RAPIDS -- Mitzie Guillen has a few rites of passage yet to hurdle: first day of high school, first driver's license, first chance to vote.

However, the 14-year-old Vista Charter Academy eighth-grader already is sizing up another: the right to wear a habit.

"I'm looking for more information," Mitzie said. "I really feel it's important to me, and I really feel comfortable being in church."

Mitzie and dozens of other curious teens sought to open their eyes, ears and hearts to the possibility of religious vocations at the inaugural God Persistently Seeking (GPS) rally at Catholic Central High School, 319 Sheldon Blvd. SE. The Diocese of Grand Rapids organized the event.

The Rev. Dominic Grassi (photo at left), of Chicago, visits Catholic Central High School to share a story about his calling to become a priest. He also discussed how young people can commit to serving God."It's a chance for you to ask, 'God, what is it you want me to do with my life?'" said Mark Mann, the diocese's director for family, youth and young adult ministry, to the assembled group.

"Let your hearts be enlightened while you're here today."

Topics discussed in six workshops included "How to Serve God and Still Be Yourself" and "Expressing Your Sexuality in Today's World."

Director of priestly vocations, the Rev. Ronald Hutchinson, said the aim isn't necessarily to recruit a new generation of nuns.

"I think that the real issue is many of our young people aren't hearing people inviting them into religious vocations," Hutchinson said.

"Somewhere along the line in the church, we stopped talking about it. We quit presenting it to young people as an option."

West Catholic High School student Patrick Harwood said he thought about being a priest in the second grade, but "(I) kind of changed my mind."

"I just kind of got older and got interested in different things," he said.

The 14-year-old said he thinks the church does plenty to reach out to youth. His image of a priest or nun is "a kind, caring person who helps you through your faith."

And your homework.

"I had a sister who helped me through grade school," he said.

Patrick and his friend, 14-year-old City High School student Josh Kozlowicz, digested what they'd heard over lunch with Sister Colleen Nagle, a Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist.

Nagle's path wasn't immediately clear, she said.

"When I was in my twenties, I really wanted to get married and have a dozen kids," she said. "That was my goal.

"I enjoyed dating and I enjoyed being a single woman and having my own apartment."

Huge changes

However, Nagle saw "huge changes" in the Catholic church as a teen and college student. The three-year Second Vatican Council was under way, which sought to open new dialogue in a transforming world.

"Their life changed so much," Nagle said of women who had chosen religious life. "They became laicized."

After 31 years as a nun, Nagle said her life is anything but boring.

"I sure don't feel like I'm old, repressed -- whatever," she said. "Life continues to be very exciting."

Forest Hills Northern High School student Alex Beecroft, 16, was skeptical when he first attended the rally. However, he soon realized no one was trying to push him, he said.

"I thought I would just be sitting here being told stuff I already knew, and to be a priest, but it's more about understanding where you're being called," he said.

Beecroft said he's considering becoming a deacon -- still fond of the wife-and-kids idea.

"I could work for the church, but a family life is something I really strive to have," he said.

School rally

The rally included an adoration and benediction at the Cathedral of St. Andrew, 301 Sheldon Ave. SE. With silence "built in" to the activities, Hutchinson said the hope was to help encourage a prayer life among youth.

Time for reflection is important in a noisy iPod world, he said.

"I don't want to hear God's call all the time because it's a challenge," said the Rev. Dominic Grassi, keynote speaker at the event and pastor of St. Gertrude Parish in Chicago.

"My life gets comfortable and then I'm challenged."

Grassi differentiated between happiness and joy. While a big stash of gifts at Christmas might make a child happy, joy is more fulfilling, and its pursuit comes through realizing one's potential.

"You're in that important part of your life where finding out who you are is part of your life's work," Grassi said. "What kind of mark do you want to leave in life?

"The church needs you to preach its gospel -- by word, by sacrament, but mostly by example."

1 comment:

Jean said...

Now THOSE are some Miraculous Medals!!