First-Ever Diocesan Family Vocations Day Held At St. Therese, North

What’s the monastic life like? At Family Vocations Day, boys learned about life, prayer and work as a monk through talks and hands-on activities such as liturgy of the hours and calligraphy. Here, three attendees build a monastery out of Lego bricks. (Megan Marley/Key photo)

By Megan Marley

The family that prays together, stays together—so why not discern God’s Will together?

The first-ever Family Vocations Day on August 19 at St. Therese, North welcomed families and individuals to learn more about prayer and discernment, and to meet diocesan priests and members of 18 women and men’s religious orders. Over 750 youths, teens, young adults, and parents attended Mass with Bishop Johnston, talks, displays, a priest and religious talent show, Q&A and hands-on learning for attendees of all ages.

“The beautiful thing about an event like this is that it’s not just an event at a school, but it’s a way to concretely reach the whole family. Especially the parents: with the value of vocation discernment, what their role is and how to help. It’s also neat to gather so many priests and religious,” said Dino Durando, Director of the Office of Family Life.

“This is one more way we can reach more young people and help them discover their vocations.”

Aside from Fifth-Grade Vocation Days, this is the only other major diocesan-level vocations event. Tina Dotson, co-coordinator of the event with Angie Stoner, said the vocations day they usually organize was originally held with just homeschoolers in mind.

The first ‘homeschool vocation retreat’ started in 2009, following a similar format of Mass, separate tracks for boys and girls of different ages, talks, Q&A and a religious talent show. Those retreats drew nearly 400 students, but after much prayer Dotson reached out with the idea of opening it up as a diocesan-wide event. So the Offices of Vocations, Consecrated Life, Family Life, Young Adult Ministry and Hispanic Ministry, and the original core group of organizers, worked together in the planning and execution of Family Vocation Day.

“I also seriously can’t tell you enough how much the Lord and the Blessed Mother and St. Philomena helped, because they just brought those inspirations. It was just…them,” Dotson said.

Listening to what God’s telling you is important, whatever your vocation. In one vocation talk to the boys, Fr. Christian Malewski recounted the life of service and sacrifice of Servant of God Fr. Stanley Rother, an Oklahoma priest with local ties to Conception Seminary who served as a missionary to Guatemala and was murdered.

Fr. Malewski said that perhaps not all of us are called to holy martyrdom, but we are all called to be saints and lay down our lives for God in some way. We can begin laying down our lives now, living lives of sacrifice and love right now in our current state of life.

For some, that state of life might become the religious life. Sister Connie Boulch, OSF, Director of the Office of Consecrated Life, hopes the day helps plant seeds of a religious vocation in youth.

“This just gives them the opportunity to experience priesthood and the religious life from a different side that they normally see. They can ask any question that they could ever have,” said Sr. Connie.

For some, she said, it clarifies what they know about religious orders.

“We have a lot of religious communities here, and that gives them the opportunity to see the difference: we all take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, but how do they live that out differently, and what are the different charisms?”

Learning about vocations is much easier when the biological and parish family are involved.

“Our parish is very big into vocations, we have a lot of seminarians from our parish, so it’s just a big witness. There’s also a woman from our parish who recently discerned into the religious life and so she’ll be joining them shortly. And for a long time I’ve been discerning,” said attendee Hannah Ousley. “Its just been an off and on thing, so coming here with my family and my parish has been very cool.”

“You don’t feel like you’re different for discerning or weird for discerning, and people are very accepting and helpful and kind about the discernment process. I’ve come just because they promote vocations and you know you don’t have to be afraid,” attendee Claire Jackson said.
Plans for the next Family Vocations Day are under way; information on this event will be made available on the diocesan website in the future.



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October 31, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph