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January 20, 2010
Fifth-graders explore religious vocations
By John Gleason
To mark National Vocations Awareness Week (Jan. 10-16), one parish offered a vocations program to its fifth-grade students called “God’s Stuff.”
The program was presented Jan. 4 to students at St. Mary School in Littleton.
The hour-long program consisted of a brief talk, a film on religious life produced by the Serra Club, which fosters vocations to holy orders and religious life, and a question and answer session with St. Mary’s pastor, Father Alvaro Montero, D.C.J.M.
Students concluded the event by having their photo taken as they posed behind cardboard cutouts of a priest and sister, giving them the chance to see what they would look like if they followed a call to the priesthood or religious life. They also received gifts of rosaries blessed by Pope Benedict XVI and assorted holy cards.
Mary Jo Rakowski has been the vocations committee chair at St. Mary Parish for more than two years. She told the Denver Catholic Register when the committee was first formed the group had several goals in mind.
“We wanted to create more awareness and support for vocations, encouraging people to pray for them,” she said. “We supported the chalice program which brought more intimate prayer into the homes of parishioners, Holy Hours to pray for our priests and bishops, and this vocational presentation for our students.”
Louis Roehns from the Serra Club began the program by asking the students if they knew what a vocation was and, just as important, how to discover which one might be in store for them.
“How does this happen? You listen and pray about it,” he said. “You might get a feeling that God is talking to you, that there is something he wants you to do. We’re all called by God to love one another. Those called to a religious life are simply called upon to love God first.”
Father Montero, a priest of the Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary order, talked to the children about being a priest, placing special emphasis on the community aspects of religious life. He told the Register that programs like the one at St. Mary’s are good for children as they begin to think about what they want to do with their lives.
“We believe God has a plan for each person,” he said. “As they grow, we at least have to present to them certain possibilities. They consider what profession they’ll choose and think about the vocation of married life. But since God is at work from the beginning we believe it’s important that children are also open to the natural attitude that God could be calling them to a religious life.”
Patrick Heffernan, 10, was one of the students who attended the program. He said he thought it was important to consider all possibilities when growing up because you never know what God has in store.
“I’ve never thought about becoming a priest,” he said. “But if I felt like God might be talking to me, it would be a good thing to talk to my parents about it.”
Asked whether the religious life could be for her, 10-year old Mary Harpole smiled widely.
“I like the idea of following Jesus and helping others,” she said. “The video showed people doing more than simply praying. They were working with others, taking time to play—all kinds of things. I think if I were to become a nun I’d want to teach religion or science. That would be good.”