Families Local

Family members discover how the Lord is calling them

Sister Talyá of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, PJC, works with the children at the Hispanic vocations day event Feb. 17 at Good Shepherd Church in Shawnee. The event, which brought family members of all ages together, offered something for everyone. LEAVEN PHOTO BY KATHRYN WHITE

by Joe Bollig

SHAWNEE — The biggest question a person can ask themselves is not “What am I going to do with my life?” said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, but “What does God want me to do with my life?”

Helping families discover their God-given vocations was the purpose of “If You Knew the Gift of God,” where Archbishop Naumann spoke, held on Feb. 17 at Good Shepherd Parish in Shawnee.

“It [was] a vocational event for the family, and [it was] to foster vocational awareness for each person to discover the gift and dignity of their calling from the Lord, and to help families find the true meaning of their call,” said Sister Monica Bernadette Arguello, SCTJM, chief organizer of the event.

Sister Monica Bernadette Arguello speaks to the crowd gathered at the Hispanic vocations day event at Good Shepherd Church in Shawnee. LEAVEN PHOTO BY KATHRYN WHITE

Offered by the archdiocesan marriage and family life office, with cosponsors including the Serra Club, the archdiocesan youth office and the archdiocesan Hispanic ministry office, it was a bit of an unusual vocations event in that whole families were invited. Children as young as 2 years old participated.

The event was conducted almost entirely in Spanish. Pastors of 12 archdiocesan parishes with significant numbers of Hispanic members extended invitations to the families to attend. Approximately 275 people were at the event.

“This day [was] a day to invite all families — the parents and children — to be open to asking the Lord what his will is for them in their life,” said Sister Monica,” his beautiful plan for them, to ask the fundamental questions, and to help the parents nurture the vocations within the family. The family is such a fertile ground where there is so much potential. Parents have such an imperative role in helping foster the seed the Lord has planted.”

The event began with introductions and instructions, and then a talk by Archbishop Naumann. He spoke of the primary vocation of the Christian to go to heaven, which is established by baptism and confirmation, and the “vocation within a vocation” or the particular ways people live their lives, as in marriage or religious life.

“The Lord has a special mission for each of us that no one else can do,” said the archbishop. “I would urge you today to pray for yourselves [and your children that] the Lord will help you to know what it is he wants you to do with your life at this time.”

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann speaks with those gathered at the Hispanic vocations day event on Feb. 17 about God’s unique call for each individual person. LEAVEN PHOTO BY KATHRYN WHITE

For the rest of the day, the parents listened to various talks while the children and youths, divided into six age categories, rotated to “stations” where they heard talks given by a priest, seminarian, religious Brother, religious Sister, married couple and a deacon candidate.

One of those at the event was 14-year-old Amirley Torrecilla, a member of Good Shepherd. Also attending was her sister, 17-year-old Sheyla Cruz, and their parents Elizeth Torrecilla and  Guillermo Cruz.

Amirley attended because she was required to do so, but she did find something interesting in what the deacon candidate said.

“The [deacon candidate] said there is a place for everyone in the church,” said Amirley. “It’s been making me think I have a place here, because I really haven’t had the best experience in church. But I’m starting to open up more to it, and [think] I might be someone who has a place here.”

Why did Elizeth and Guillermo bring their daughters to this event?

“Because the teenage years are those [during which] we want them to be close to God, and we want to find different ways to bring them back,” said Elizeth.

“We want them to be better human beings and to be close to God,” said Guillermo.

Sister Kelly Grace, of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, leads a game with some of the younger Catholics who attended the Hispanic vocations day event. LEAVEN PHOTO BY KATHRYN WHITE

Another youth who attended was 17-year-old Fernanda Diaz from Holy Cross Parish in Overland Park. The presentation by one of the religious Sisters helped her understand how a vocation is considered.

“Those questions are usually learned through life experiences and throughout life,” she said. “I learned from the Sisters how they would see signs and knew about their vocation. It’s a decision that will not be decided in one or two thoughts, but over the course of years.

“It’s worthwhile for children and youths to have the question of a vocation in the back of their minds, because it takes time to fully process and develop one’s thoughts, and to align one’s own desires with God’s desires.”

Children participate in an activity during the Hispanic vocations day event at Good Shepherd Church in Shawnee. LEAVEN PHOTO BY KATHRYN WHITE

Overall, the day was a success, said Karla Melgar, consultant for the archdiocesan office of evangelization.

“This type of event really helps us to be united, to be together and to celebrate what God is calling us to do as a church,” she said.  “We know we want to have a lot of vocations, but we have to support the families. I would like to see the support of pastors from different parishes.”

Melgar hopes that parents will continue discussing vocations in their families, and pastors will also lend their support. Follow-up is essential.

“I think it’s important to continue having these types of events and do follow-up,” she said. “Now, what is next? We created this event for the families — they attended, they en-joyed, but how are we going to do that follow-up? This is the first event that we hosted for family vocations.

“What the Lord is calling us to do — and that is not just for me, but everyone involved. What is the next step the Holy Spirit wants us to do?”

To view more photos from the Hispanic vocations day event, follow us on Facebook.

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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