By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY — Not that much older than the fifth-grade girls she was talking to, Abby Rockers was bursting with excitement as she spoke of the man she is going to marry.
“How many of you want the perfect boyfriend?” the 18-year-old, 2011 graduate of St. Pius X High school said. “Well, I have the perfect boyfriend — Jesus Christ.”
Rockers is a postulant, at the very beginning of her formation which will lead her to vows as a Sister of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist.
She’s got a long way to go, she told the young women at the annual Fifth Grade Vocation Days. But right now, she is certain that God was calling her to religious life, and to a marriage to Christ and his church.
And that doesn’t mean she can’t pursue any particular career in service to God’s people, Rockers said.
“We all do different things. Teacher? Doctor? All those different things are things that sisters do,” Rockers said.
But Rockers said she is also learning how to live in community and to listen to God working in her life as she prepares for her perpetual vows of poverty, obedience and chastity.
“How many of you think it would be tough not to watch TV all the time, or have your own car or cell phone?” Rockers said.
“We give those things up so we can talk to our husband,” she said. “We try to listen in silence to what Jesus is trying to tell us.”
Listening to what God is calling them to do is key, said speakers at the annual day set aside to help Catholic fifth-graders understand that some of them may be called to priesthood, or to life as religious brothers and sisters.
Sometimes, that call is hard to ignore, said Father Robert Stewart as he spoke to boys.
Father Stewart, pastor of St. Margaret of Scotland Parish in Lee’s Summit, told the boys that he had graduated from college and had begun a career in his own office, with his own phone, when he decided he was called to be a priest, a calling he heard through Catholic elementary school, high school and university.
“I had it made,” he said. “But the idea of priesthood keep nagging me over the years.”
Father Stewart said he knows now what God was calling him to be.
“I enjoy my life,” he said. “I am overjoyed by what I do, and some of that is work.”
Father Sean McCaffery told the fifth graders that God is calling them to religious life, or to married life, or to single life. But God is calling, he said.
Just ordained in December, Father McCaffery said he at one time wanted to be an actor, and was even getting small roles in Hollywood.
“Then I heard God’s call,” he said. “God may be calling you to be a priest, or a sister or a religious brother, and that is beautiful.”
But that call is best received through quiet prayer.
“God isn’t going to send you a Facebook message,” he said. “But if you calm down and quiet down, he will call you. He knows what’s best for you because he created you. The important thing now is to be open to God’s call in your life.”
In his homily at the day’s closing Mass, Bishop Robert W. Finn also stressed the need to recognize God’s voice in the heart, the same way that people can instantly recognize a voice of a person they love and care about over the phone.
And that only can be done through the discipline of prayer and remaining close to the sacraments, he said.
Don’t be concerned, the bishop said, that God calls anyone to any vocation, then abandons him or her to figure it out on their own. It won’t always be easy. But God will always be there, Bishop Finn said.
“Whatever the Lord is asking, he will ask us to pick up the cross and follow him,” the bishop said.
“God has a special plan for each one of us,” the bishop said. “Whatever it is, he gives us the grace and strength to follow it faithfully.”
Bishop Finn said that God called St. Paul by knocking him off his horse with a lightning bolt.
“That could happen to you, but don’t worry if it doesn’t,” he said.
“Our Lord slowly, clearly and gently breaks into our hearts,” Bishop Finn said.
“He wants us to grow and to listen to his voice,” he said.
“I know God is calling boys to the priesthood and religious life. I know God is calling girls to religious life,” he said.
“I know he is calling you,” the bishop said. “All I am asking for your vocation is what God calls you for. I want you to promise to pray to the Lord every day, ‘Lord, what is my vocation?’”