Vocations to the religious life might seem to have been dwindling in recent decades, but we appear to be in a new springtime of interest now. Several young women attended a recent Lenten vocations retreat at St. Joseph’s parish in Calgary, adding to the growing evidence that young people are still drawn to an experience of living the life of Christ in today’s world. Woven throughout the day was the theme of Thirsting for Mercy, and the 10 discerners had a chance to interact with several Sisters from various religious communities within the Diocese.
The day kicked off with Mass, followed by a Scriptural reflection on Isaiah 55. Next was a presentation by Fr. Luan Pho, a Dominican priest, who graciously shared his faith journey: From the poverty of a post-Vietnam War life to that of a ridiculed immigrant in the United States, to finding merciful love and acceptance in a youth group at his local parish. This loving acceptance eventually led him to consider the priesthood, enflaming in him the desire to share God’s love and mercy with others in the way he had experienced them.
Once the discerners had a chance to meet and talk in small groups, the morning continued with a musical interlude. Songs and hymns that focused on the theme of God’s infinite mercy were played and sung, such as There is a Wideness in God’s Mercy, and a beautiful recording of Cece Winans’ Mercy Said “No.”
For the second half of the day’s proceedings, the retreatants listened to and shared their thoughts on the story of the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, and how Jesus’ merciful approach transformed her life.
After viewing What is a Vocation? by Fr. Mike Schmitz, the participants assembled in groups of two or three to engage in eight-minute sessions with each of the religious communities in attendance. They had an opportunity to learn about the charisms of the communities along with personal stories of the Sisters. Present for the retreat were Sisters of Providence, Dominicans, Seeds of the Word, Faithful Companions of Jesus, Franciscan Sisters of St. Elizabeth, Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, and the Society in the Image of the Triune God.
The day concluded with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, along with an opportunity for receiving the sacrament of reconciliation. Feedback from the participants was both positive and encouraging, giving the Vocations Planning Committee responsible for the event valuable information for future vocations events.
Young women considering a vocation to religious life are encouraged to contact Sr. Lucille Field, S.I.T.G., at (403) 461-1094 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and visit the Facebook page at facebook.com/AveMariaDiscernmentHouse.
Additional events will also be announced on the Calgary Vocations Retreat Facebook page, found at facebook.com/calgaryvocationsretreat.