Priest, Sister & Seminarians Visit Catholic Schools

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Our greatest venue for helping young men and women to hear the call of God is our Catholic schools,” said Vocation Director Fr. Matthew Long.

In January, Fr. Matthew Long, Sr. AnnaMaria, and five college-aged seminarians traveled to every school in our diocese to speak to students about priestly and religious vocations.

The five seminarians—John Parker, Kevin Mues, Martin Aviles-Vazquez, Steven Griego and Brandon Rice—were released from their seminary for a week to take part in the school visitations.

The group visited six schools, speaking in most, but not all classes. As the group moved from class to class, led by Fr. Long, often the students would rise and say, “Good morning, Father!”

Over the course of a week, the seminarians took turns telling their vocations stories. “There’s a strong formational aspect to these visits,” said Fr. Long, “Not just for the students, but also for the seminarians. I could see the seminarians were nervous the first day, but by the last day, you could see that they had become comfortable talking in front of people. They became more natural at communicating Jesus Christ to young people, and that really helps them in their discernment.”

Having a religious sister present also brought a new dimension to the school visits. Sister AnnaMaria is part of the Our Lady of Sorrows community here in our diocese, and wears a simple black habit. “For many students, it was the first time they had ever seen a nun in person,” said Fr. Long.

Sister told of how, as a young girl, people would ask her, “Do you want to get married and have a large family?” She remembers thinking, “Yes, I do—but I want something more!”

After a brief talk on vocations by Fr. Long, the students would ask questions about priesthood and religious life. It was obvious that many had notions that priests only pray all day and celebrate Mass. Many were surprised that seminarians play sports, have friends and go to the movies.

The highlight of the week, said Fr. Long, was playing dodge ball with the 6th grade class at St. John Berchmans school. “My team won; so that’s what really matters,” he laughed.

Having a “vocation team” visit schools is only in its second year, but Fr. Long hopes to make it a tradition. “I believe the future priests and sisters for our diocese will come from our own parishes and schools,” he said. “We need to plant these seeds early so their vocations can mature over time.”

by Sam Alzheimer, Vianney Vocations

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