Archdiocesan Vocation Days plant seeds of awareness
By Jaclyn Schulte
The Catholic Voice
Stories of personal journeys and faith discovery played an important role in the success of the first Omaha Archdiocesan city-wide sixth-grade Vocation Awareness Days being held this month.
Sixth graders from 30 Catholic schools in Omaha and the surrounding area are taking part in the program. Three of the gatherings have been held, with the last one planned for Oct. 27 at St. Leo Church in Omaha.
Our goal is to 'help educate (the students) about vocations in our church and the call that God has given to all of us to the three vocations that are part of our Catholic faith," said Sister Jackie Thorn, OSM, director of consecrated life and organizer of the vocations awareness program.
'In my heart I knew something was missing," Father Jim Keiter, pastor of Assumption Parish, said in this keynote speech.
He discussed his journey from plans to become an orthopedic surgeon to his decision to go to the seminary. 'God is in charge, not us," said Father Keiter.
Jessica Kary, Apostolic Oblate, had a similar message for the female students in the crowd in her keynote speech. 'Spend time every day dreaming, and say to Jesus "˜I will do whatever you want,'" she said.
After the keynote speakers, the students broke into small groups and met with presenters who discussed their chosen calling. Presenters included priests, religious and deacons.
'Being a deacon is an outward example of what God has called me to do," said Deacon Marty Crowley in his small group presentation about his journey to becoming a permanent deacon.
Sister Joan Miriam Glaser, OP, spoke to her small group about her daily life activities and also her decision to become a Dominican Sister.
'We are trying to involve as many different religious communities in the archdiocese as we can," said Sister Thorn. Some of the participating communities included the Jesuits, Benedictines, Kentucky Dominicans, Mercy Sisters, Notre Dame Sisters and Benedictine Sisters.
Religious fun fact tests were given to the students at the beginning of the day and the afternoons included a lunch provided and served by the Knights of Columbus.
Each day concluded with presentations by Father Ralph O'Donnell, vocations director for the Archdiocese of Omaha, and Sister Thorn, as well as a Mass.
'We want every student to respond to God's call in their lives and it is our hope that we planted the seed for either religious vocations or a vocation to the priesthood," said Sister Thorn.
Vocation Awareness Days will be held in the rural area in April.