Vocation awareness encouraged at all-schools Masses
By Tim Johnson
FORT WAYNE, NOTRE DAME — “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” The message from 1 Samuel stirred the hearts of young people gathered in Fort Wayne’s Allen County War Memorial Coliseum and the University of Notre Dame’s Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center as schools from across the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend assembled for the annual all-schools Masses.
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades celebrated the Masses where his theme of vocation awareness to the Priesthood and consecrated life resonated with the students.
“Jesus teaches us how important it is that we pray to the Lord of the Harvest, that we pray to God, that He may give laborers, workers for His harvest, for His vineyard,” Bishop Rhoades said in his homily.
Jesus, in His ministry, saw that the people needed a shepherd and leaders who would show them God’s love. The Apostles began the mission of proclaiming the Gospel, healing the sick and helping those who were in trouble or had special needs.
“This has been a need of the Church for 2,000 years,” Bishop Rhoades said. “There is a great need today for laborers, for workers in the Church, in the Lord’s vineyard.”
“Jesus tells us to pray for vocations,” the bishop said, “to pray for more workers for the Church. I am asking you to pray for more priests and religious sisters and brothers.”
He also asked the students to think of themselves, serving God as priests, religious sisters or brothers.
“Maybe some of you are already thinking about it. I hope so,” Bishop Rhoades offered.
He related the story of Samuel from the day’s first reading. God was calling Samuel to be a prophet.
“Sometimes when you pray, say those words of Samuel: ‘Speak Lord, your servant is listening,’” Bishop Rhoades said. “Especially pray what to do in your life, pray about your vocation. … And when we are listening, we hear God’s call, and it may be a call to be a priest, to be a sister or a brother. It may be a call to marriage. But we have to listen.”
He encouraged the young people to listen for that call in the silence of their hearts and minds. “When you pray,” he said, “don’t do all the talking. Listen. Listen to God speaking to you.”
He encouraged the students to read the Scriptures. He said if they did not have a Bible, to put one on their Christmas list. “When we read the Scriptures, that’s one way that God speaks to us,” Bishop Rhoades said.
He encouraged the young people to be open to God’s call when choosing a vocation. Think about, he said, “What does God want me to be and do with my life?”
“When we do what God wants us to do, and we answer His call … then we’re really going to be happy with our life,” Bishop Rhoades said.
With the feast of All Saints, Nov. 1, celebrated near the all-schools Masses, fourth-grade students came dressed as their favorite saints.
In Fort Wayne, Max Robinson of St. John the Baptist, New Haven, was called out by Bishop Rhoades to speak about his saint, St. Maximilian Kolbe. Bishop had asked for a priest-saint and young Max was quick to volunteer and share with the 4,000 people gathered for the Fort Wayne Mass on Oct. 29 what he learned about the saint who “gave up his life for a stranger.” St. Maximilian, a priest, lost his life at Auschwitz, after he came forward to take the place of a man sentenced with nine others to the starvation chamber. Father Kolbe was the last survivor in the starvation chamber and actually died from a shot of carbolic acid.
Bishop also called on Katie Palmer of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Fort Wayne, who chose St. Katharine Drexel as her patron saint. St. Katharine Drexel was part of a wealthy Philadelphia family. She used her inheritance to found the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and established schools and missions across the country to serve Black and Native American children.
Other fourth-grade students chose priests, sisters and brothers to represent at the Mass.
Mia Gabet from St. Mary, Avilla, chose a Dominican sister, St. Rose of Lima, as her patron saint. The sister took care of the poor and sick and was called the “Angel of the Andes,” Mia noted before the Mass.
In South Bend, Bishop Rhoades emphasized the witness of St. Martin de Porres, the first Black Saint of the Americas, on his feast day of Nov. 3.
“St. Martin, a Dominican Brother from Lima, Peru, was known for his great humility, love of the Eucharist, and enjoyment of menial work. He taught that no matter how humble our work, if we do it with love and for the glory of God, we can become saints.”
Bishop Rhoades was pleased to learn that Martin Del Abra of St. Adalbert had chosen to dress as St. Martin de Porres, his patron name saint.
Bishop Rhoades said, “We should all have our special friends in heaven — men and women we can look to and ask for prayers and intercessions from throughout our lives.”
Additionally, Bishop Rhodes spoke with Teresa Pingel of Christ the King, who dressed as Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, whom she was named after. She shared that she admired Mother Teresa for “founding the Missionaries of Charity and helping to serve those who are very poor.”
Bishop Rhoades commended all the South Bend students who dressed up as saints, again exclaiming his hope that some in attendance may become priests, or religious sisters or brothers. He thanked all those who participated in the Mass as servers, lectors, cantors, and choir members.
He also recognized those who helped make the event a success, including the teachers, principals, and staff of the schools represented, the Catholic Schools Office, Superintendent Marsha Jordan, Quality Dining and the University of Notre Dame staff.
Christopher Lushis contributed to this story.
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