October 27, 2015 // Local

Lyon family twins discerning religious life

Bart, left, and Becky Lyon, second from right, are shown with their daughter Sister Abigail who is discerning religious life with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, and seminarian Sam Lyon, right, who is discerning Priesthood at Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio. They are shown at a recent visit to St. Felix Catholic Center in Huntington.

By Cathy McLeish

FORT WAYNE — Bart and Becky Lyon have parented five children with their twins, Abby and Sam being their youngest. “We’ve been known to say the twins are the easiest of our children but it might be more honest to say we’ve just gotten increasingly tired and a little more lenient in our parenting approach” confesses Bart with a smile.

Their home smells of baked cookies and colorfully wrapped gifts are stacked in front of the lit fireplace. Both are thoughtful tokens for their daughter and her community of religious sisters.

They will soon see Sister Abigail for the first time since she left to begin formation with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, nine weeks ago.

Sam, feeling called to become a diocesan priest, has begun his journey at the Pontifical College Josephinum. He is home for the weekend to accompany his family and visit his twin sister.

“The two have always been close; not to say they haven’t fought and argued,” Becky admitted. “But they would do anything for each other.”

Recalling his own discernment, Sam remembers being told by his religious education teachers that he should consider the Priesthood.

“I guess I knew more answers than most of the other kids,” Sam said. As time evolved, so did the vocation suggestion. “After eight years in public schools, Abby and I started high school at Bishop Dwenger, which was probably the best decision our family could have made. Initially, we didn’t know anyone, but we had each other. That naturally brought us closer.”

Jake Lyon, just two years older than the twins, encouraged them to check out the Life Teen program at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Fort Wayne. The three were actively involved in Church ministries and attended every teen retreat, eventually taking leadership roles.

“I know my life should be ordered around Mass and the sacraments, but I looked forward to those retreats like Christmas. They had that big of an effect on me,” said Sam.

Father Andrew Budzinski, who was parochial vicar at St. Vincent at the time, was a strong and steadfast friend and mentor to the Lyon children.

“We told him he had to stay at our parish until the twins graduated, and he did … but not a minute longer!” said Becky.

“Father Andrew started the Melchizedek Project where discerning men meet and talk with him once a month. It’s a tool I would highly recommend,” suggested Sam. “The fact that he is now the vocations director is awesome!”

He resumed his story. “So, after the Right to Life March in D.C. my sophomore year, our bus stopped at Mount Saint Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Maryland. It’s where we send our theologians. I was awestruck at the beauty of their chapel and as I was praying, one of the theologians lifted his violin and began to play ‘Ave Maria.’ When I say I heard God speak to me, I can only explain it as the clearest thought I’ve ever had … that I know wasn’t my own. He said, ‘Sam, will you save a thousand souls?’”

“All night on the bus ride home while everyone was sleeping, I’m wrestling with this thing. I told myself not to overreact. You could be married or be a teacher and still save a thousand souls, right?” Sam quipped. “But the week that I get back, Father Andrew hands me this book with the title, ‘To Save a Thousand Souls, A Guide for Discerning the Catholic Priesthood.’ Well, I had to admit, that was pretty specific!”

“My sister, Abby, has always studied and read to learn everything she could about our faith and she would post quotes and Scriptures in her room. We talked and shared a lot. Through high school, people would call me pious, but I am just a very vocal pious person. My sister is genuinely pious. I think it was a strong spiritual influence to have her so close every day and I’d like to think I had the same impact on her.”

“Their high school years weren’t an easy time for our family,” Becky shared honestly. “We went through some tragic things that affected our kids. It was a time when they needed help and they had to make a choice about where that help would come from. Sam and Abby chose God.”

Bart Lyon offered one last reflection, “From the time all of my children were babies, my dream for them was that they grow up to be as happy, healthy, content and successful as they could possibly be. If Sam and Abby are following the will of God, we believe they will definitely find that degree of happiness and success. It may be measured in different ways by different people, but if they are living God’s will for their lives, what greater success could we possibly want for them?”

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