What is a vocation? 5th and 6th graders find out

Sister Isabel Granados of the Sister Servants of Mary speaks on vocations to a classroom of girls at Vocations Days. (Megan Marley/Key photo)
Sister Isabel Granados of the Sister Servants of Mary speaks on vocations to a classroom of girls at Vocations Days. (Megan Marley/Key photo)

By Megan Marley
Social Media Coordinator

Students came from all corners of the diocese to explore the topic of vocations at 5th (and 6th) grade vocations days, held February 13 and 14 at St. Michael the Archangel High School in Lee’s Summit. 766 students attended over the course of both days, including 6th graders who missed last February’s Vocation Days due to it being cancelled for icy weather.

The day began with Mass celebrated by Bishop James Johnston, Jr. and concelebrated by priests present to later speak with the students. Following Mass and a snack, students dispersed to learn more about the priesthood and religious life in ‘Men in Black’ and ‘Sister-Sister’ talks, and for Q&A with the bishop.

In one of the ‘Men in Black’ presentations, Fr. Alex Kreidler used a sports analogy to explain what a vocation is.

“If you were going to go to a Chiefs game, you’d go—‘this Sunday, this time we’re going to beat the Patriots. This time, the referees aren’t gonna be bad. This time, we’re going to claim the AFC Championship and we’re going to the Super Bowl, and I’m going to witness it—so I want to get to Arrowhead, the fastest and best way that I can.’ How am I gonna get there? I’m going to get in my car, turn it on, and drive down whatever street I’m on to I-70, and I’m going to get to the best parking spot at Arrowhead. That’s my goal.”

“When we’re born, what’s the goal? To get to heaven,” he continued.

“We say, ‘Ok, God, what’s the best way for me to get to Heaven?’ It’s simple: love the Lord your God with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Keep the commandments, go to Mass on Sundays, pray.”

“But more specifically, your vocation is God saying ‘I know my son better than anyone else. I know what he’s made for, I know what’s going to make him happy and what’s going to get him and a bunch of other people to Heaven. That’s his vocation.’”

Kreidler recounted a time when he was in 5th or 6th grade and first wanted to become a priest, but denied it.

“I said ‘I want to be a doctor, I want to be a teacher, I want to be a lawyer, I want to be a father.’ I didn’t want to be made fun of, I didn’t want to be ‘that guy’. But at the same time, the desire to be a priest never left. So the more I tried to convince myself I wanted to do other things, the less happy I was,” he said.

But after high school he gave seminary a shot, and loved saying yes to his vocation.

“In following God’s will I got to become a priest, and I also got to be a father, because priests are fathers; I got to be a lawyer, I’m a canon lawyer; I got to teach, I taught Latin here last year and I still teach Latin sometimes; and I’m also a doctor, because any time a priest preforms one of the sacraments, he heals people in a very profound way.”

“No matter what your vocation is, whether it’s to be a priest, a religious, or a husband and father, I can tell you this 100 percent: your vocation is certainly to be a good man, a virtuous man, to be a real hero.”

In one of the Sister-Sister presentations, Sister Isabel Granados of the Sister Servants of Mary explained how the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience work in a sister’s life.

“We try to be poor like He was poor, so we concentrate more on things of Heaven,” she said.

“When we promise obedience, it means we made a promise to do whatever He asks of us, she continued. “We go where He leads us to, and that really makes us happy because you’re doing something for God, and in a way He’s leading you to a bigger plan.”

With the vow of chastity, “You give Jesus your heart, so He can love everyone with your heart. Sisters don’t have children on our own, we don’t get married and have husbands—we have Jesus. We’re moms in a different way, with a lot of people more than just your family.”

She also shared how God could be showing you your vocation.

“If you have a talent or something, that gives you a clue what you could be in the future or how you could use your talents for God and other people. I personally like nursing, so that gave me a little clue that I might do something with medicine,” she said. “Through prayer, through talking with Jesus, you discover your vocation.”

She gave an example of her own vocation story, discerning with the sisters rather than going straight to medical school after high school.

“The more I visit, the more I feel in my heart that I liked it, and the more that I was closer to Jesus. And the closer I got to Jesus, the happier I became—so he gives you clues like that,” she said.

“Whatever call He has for you, to be a mom, to be a sister, to be a teacher, a nurse, or whatever—just as long as you do your best and you do it with your whole heart, Jesus will be happy and you’ll be happy.”

Bishop Johnston also gave a talk on vocations, how he followed his vocation after becoming an electrical engineer and what he most enjoys about being a priest and bishop.

“It’s been a great adventure—when you say yes to the Lord you don’t know where it’s going to lead, but I’ve always been very happy being a priest because I see my job as a priest, the vocation of a priest, as being both a shepherd and a fisherman,” he said.

“As a fisherman, I try to get as many people as we can into the family of God, which is the Church. So I’m always trying to fish, to get people into the family of God. I’m also a shepherd, trying to keep everybody on the highway to Heaven, because that’s where our true home is, isn’t it? That’s one of the joys of being a priest—you get to spend your whole life helping people get to Heaven.”

Students also got to ask the bishop questions.

Did you like being an engineer?

“While I was an engineer I enjoyed that, I enjoyed my friends, but I was unsettled—I knew I wanted more than the life of what I was doing,” he answered.

“Just because you go to seminary doesn’t mean you’re going to become a priest, but you’ll never know unless you go to seminary—it’s there that God sort of confirms it. I had a pretty good idea.”

What’s your favorite part of being a bishop?

“I like visiting everyone in the diocese, and in a way I liked having my own parish because it helps in getting to know people because I saw them every day and on the weekends. I can’t do that now as a bishop, but I can visit all the different parishes and schools and see what God is doing in a bigger way.”

Is it bad if we haven’t thought about being a priest or a nun?

“No, not everyone is cut out to be a priest or a nun. In fact, most peoples’ vocation is to be married, to have a family. But one of the things we want to do here today is to provide information to help those who are called to be priests and nuns to know how that works.”

The day concluded with praise and worship followed by Eucharistic Adoration in the gym. As they left, students shared their insights from the day.

The most interesting part for George, a student at St. Elizabeth School in Kansas City, was “just learning about how everyone’s different vocations brought them to where they are today.”

Joe, another St. Elizabeth’s student, found Bishop’s talk and Q & A most interesting.

“I learned about how Bishop Johnston got to be a priest,” he said.

“I didn’t know it took eight years to be, like, an official sister,” said Christina, a student at St. Andrew’s School in Gladstone.

When asked about if she’d thought about what her vocation might be, another St. Andrew’s student named Mya said “sometimes I think about it, not much but a little bit.”

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Saturday
November 16, 2019
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph