by Jill Ragar Esfeld
TOPEKA — “Where will the priests of tomorrow come from, if not you?”
That was the question posed by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann to fifth-graders from Catholic schools throughout the Topeka Region when Christ the King Church in Topeka hosted Fifth-Grade Vocation Day Oct. 9.
Students spent the day hearing about religious vocations, but the archbishop wanted them to understand that every vocation is an opportunity to serve God.
“God wants us to share in his mission to make the love of Jesus Christ known to the whole world,” he said. “That’s the great vocation we all have.”
The archbishop’s talk came midway through a day that started with music and a presentation by archdiocesan vocations director Father Mitchel Zimmerman and two young people in the process of discerning vocations.
During lunch, students attended sessions hosted by Sisters and priests from the archdiocese who shared the stories of their own calling and answered questions about their life’s work.
The day culminated with an informative talk by Archbishop Naumann and Mass.
Greeting the students before Mass in formal dress, the archbishop talked about the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and his role as archbishop.
He gave them a brief explanation of the symbolism of the clothes he wears and how his cross reminds him of the love of Christ and his duty to be an apostle of that love in the world.
The archbishop also explained to the students how his ring is similar to the wedding rings worn by their parents, in that it is a reminder of his commitment to the church.
Finally, he discussed the staff he carries as the shepherd of the archdiocese — and later teased students that he might use it to wake them up if they fell asleep during his homily.
The archbishop then invited students to think about how God is calling them to live the mission of being his sons and daughters.
“How is he calling me to bring others to Jesus Christ?” he said.
Whether they are called to Christian marriage, or to a special vocation of leadership and service in the church, the archbishop wanted students to understand that God has a plan for each of them — a special mission no one else can fulfill.
“God has given us each a unique set of talents and gifts, and he wants us to use them to glorify him,” he said.
During the Mass that followed his talk, Archbishop Naumann encouraged students to reflect on all they had learned throughout the day.
“As you come to the Eucharist,” he said, “ask God what his will is for you, and for the courage to follow it every day.”