Day of joy & gratitude: Vocation rally at NDHSCape Girardeau MO
A diocesan Vocation Rally was organized by the diocesan Office of Vocations and Seminarians at Notre Dame High School on Mon., March 27. Bishop Edward M. Rice was the keynote of the day which centered around praise to God with a line-up of seminarians, religious sisters and brothers, priests, and others reflecting on their personal relationships as disciples of Christ. Centering on their own service in the Church, presenters offered tips and insights to encourage young people to ask the deeper questions as to what the Lord might be calling them to do with their lives.
“This day is about God’s love for us,” Bp. Rice said, opening the Vocation Rally. “We are called to fall in love with Jesus Christ, to answer his call of love, as only the love of God—above all things—will make our lives meaningful.”
In his keynote address, Bishop Rice told the young people that knowing one’s calling in this life is not always easy amid the distractions of daily living and yet, as intentional disciples and children of God, we are called to ask the questions, “Why are we here? What is the meaning of life for me?”
“How you answer these questions will give meaning to your life!” Bp. Rice said. “Understanding that each one of us has been given a particular mission and to the extent that we cooperate with divine providence, we continue to fulfill the incredible mission that the Lord has entrusted to us.”
“God will not call you to a vocation that is lifeless and loveless,” Bishop Rice said. “If God calls you to the priesthood or the religious life, he will give you the graces you need to carry out the mission.”
“Learn to accept who God created you to be,” Bishop Rice said, “and that is a holy man/a holy woman.”
Bishop Rice challenged the young people at Notre Dame High School to have a fervent prayer life, incorporating silence into their lives on a daily basis so as to hear the voice of God—knowing that “the first language of God is silence.”
“Living a sacramental life keeps us close to Christ, and making the sacrament of reconciliation part of your lives, going to Adoration, and praying the rosary,” all these intentional acts help us be more intentional in our faith and focus, Bp. Rice said.
“Always ask, ‘What is God asking me to do with my life?’” Bp. Rice said.
“No one can discern a vocation apart from God,” Bp. Rice urged, “it has to be done with God since we desire to do his will.”
“The Lord needs you—the Lord is taking the initiative to do something great in your life,” said Sr. Nelly Rivera, MC, to a group a young women.
Sr. Rivera and Sr. Blanca Rivera, MC, are two Sisters of the Congregation of the Poor Clair Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament that minister in Sacred Heart Catholic School in Poplar Bluff. They led a breakout session to young women along with three visiting Dominican sisters from Nashville.
“Your vocation to a life of holiness began at the moment you were baptized,” Sr. Rivera said, “you just have to discover it.”
Throughout the day, several diocesan priests spoke to the youth on their vocations to the priesthood, including Fr. William Hennecke, Jr., and Fr. David Coon. Fr. Joseph Kelly, associate pastor of St. Mary Cathedral Parish, Cape Girardeau, reminded one gathering of young men, “In order to be good priests, we first have to be good men.”
First rally of three
“The Church’s understanding of vocation promotion has always been one of prayer and generous outreach to men and women discerning a call to a life of service in the Church, outreach such as this day at Notre Dame High School,” said Fr. Patrick Nwokoye, diocesan Director of Vocation Promotions, who organized the March 27 Vocation Rally. Fr. Nwokoye said plans are underway to hold similar events in Springfield Catholic High School and McAuley Catholic High School, in Joplin.
“Pope Francis in his message on the World Day of Prayer for Vocation said, ‘there can be no promotion of vocations or Christian mission apart from constant contemplative prayer, imploring vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life,’”said Fr. Nwokoye.
“In a Church which is totally vocational, all are vocation promoters,” said Bp. Rice. “First in prayer, second, by assisting in promoting a new vocational culture in young people and families.”
“I ask that you pray to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his Church in Southern Missouri,” Bp. Rice said.