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October 14, 2009
Teens urged to be open to hearing God’s call
By John Gleason
As Christians, we have a universal call to holiness, a religious sister told more than 200 teens attending a vocations workshop Oct. 6.
Loretto Sister Mary Kay Brannan, keynote speaker of the 2009 FOCUS 11 vocations program shared that message with the 11th-graders gathered at St. Thomas More Parish in Centennial for the workshop.
“I want them to know,” she told the Denver Catholic Register, “there is already a vocation in their hearts whether it be priesthood or religious life or even marriage. All they have to do is listen to it.”
Sponsored by the Office of Priestly Vocations, FOCUS 11 consists of presentations, talks and information booths that promote awareness to holy orders and religious life.
FOCUS 11 is a two-tier program; one geared for 11-year-olds (sixth-graders) and the other for students in the 11th grade. Students from these grades are selected because studies indicate that many who enter religious life begin to contemplate the idea at these ages.
Held this year Oct. 5-7, many religious orders were represented, including Sisters of the Precious Blood, Sisters of Loretto and Oblates of the Virgin Mary.
The program started with Mass after which the students were divided up into boy and girl groups; one attending a panel discussion, the other watching a video on vocations.
Sister Vickie Lichtenauer, a Sister of Charity of Leavenworth, runs campus ministry at Cristo Rey High School in Kansas City, which is operated by her order. Following the video she spoke about what young women face should they decide to enter religious life. It isn’t easy to answer God’s call, she said, because it means giving up everything. But, she emphasized, those who enter religious life find they receive much more in return. It’s a concept that many young people find surprising.
“These girls are at an accumulation phase in their lives,” she told the Denver Catholic Register. “They show their worth by what they have.”
Sister Lichtenauer said she explains to the girls that in giving up everything, one comes to rely on God, rather than on oneself.
“And from Him,” she said, “come the blessings that will sustain you.
“The girls are afraid that everything will be taken away, or there will always be someone to tell them what to do and how to do it,” she said. “What helps are events like this where they come and ask questions. They spend time with the sisters; see that we share our resources and that we have exactly what we need in order to live.”
After the boys viewed a vocational video, “Fishers of Men,” Holy Family High School junior Jessie Kilgore told the Register what impressed him most was the testimonials of the priests, which spelled out exactly what is required for men contemplating holy orders.
“It was great and to the point,” he said. Referring to Father Jim Crisman, director of the archdiocese’s Office of Priestly Vocations, he added. “It was like what Father Crisman said about needing young men who are willing to sacrifice and lay down their lives for Christ.”
Kilgore, 16, was interested in obtaining more information about St. John Vianney Theological Seminary but admitted that some of his classmates were taking a wait and see attitude.
“Some have girlfriends,” he said. “Others aren’t sure what they’d have to give up but honestly, there are guys who remain open to the idea. That’s why we’re here.”