Roy and I were out to dinner with friends of ours a few years back. They asked me about homeschooling and why I chose to take that route. Within my litany of reasons, discerning their vocation was up there on the list. It is no surprise that the Catholic Church has a shortage of priests. I believe that one of the reasons for this is that parents are not providing opportunities for their children to discern their vocation. Truth be told, I never "discerned" the vocation to married life. The possibility of being a nun was so distant. Sooo distant. My only childhood memory of a Sister was the mean, little one that grabbed everyone by the ear when it was their turn for their hearing test. I'm so glad that was her only job. It was not the greatest memory. I wanted...I mean...I needed to introduce my kids to their real life. They are learning how the priest and Religious live, who they are, the stories of their calling, their jobs, feelings, prayer life, community service, daily activities, and what it truly means to be a Priest, Brother, Monk or Sister.
I believe that the vocation of marriage is the norm. My kids have many fine examples of good marriages in their lives. It is not much of a stretch to bring their attention to this vocation. The vocation of the Priesthood and Religious life, however, takes a little more work..., a little more planning. After all, if my kids really had an equal view of both of these vocations, they will have attended as many vows and ordinations as they have weddings. Correct? Something to think about. I think I can let myself off the hook on this one since "few are called but many are chosen" Mt 22:14. There will be more weddings then vows or ordinations which makes this task of equality in need of some creativity.
Fransiscan Spirit Camp is a camp for 6-8th grade girls once a year in June. They spend the day playing with the Sisters. It is not boring daily tasks, its playtime with apparently, much water usage. Samantha loves to go their every year.
Mary Kate volunteers every Monday at the warehouse at the Fransiscan Center. She helps the Sisters sort clothes and bag them up for the missions overseas. Mary Kate is perfect for the annoying, time consuming tasks that the normal person would despise. Her current job is to check every single pen and marker to make sure it works before it can be bagged up. Why waste shipping $$ on bad markers? She loves this job.
Every other year, my good homeschool friend, Tina Dotson, puts together an enormous Vocation Day for kids K-12. She has dozens of priests and Religious come out and do crafts, play and talk to the kids about every question they (and the rest of us) have about their job. If I can be pried away from the vendors, I can listen in on the talks for the parents on how to bring opportunities to my kids to pray and discern their own vocation.
Nick has been going to Companion Camp at Conception Seminary for 7 years in a row. This is a weekend camp for boys 6-8th grade to play and pray with the seminarians. What a gift. Nick has made many sacrifices to attend, including giving up his 10-day Boy Scout camp this year. It is just that important to him. He has been on staff since he was a Freshman. So many of his homeschool friends go on to the Seminary, so this gives him another chance to visit.
Mary Kate, Samantha and Theresa visit the Servants of Mary convent every other month. The Sisters have a detailed 3 hour plan for several girls that always include prayer and fun. We have not been able to attend the precious times that one of their novitiates takes her vows and receives her wedding ring. One day. One day, I SO look forward to that beautiful day.
Mary Kate and Samantha go to The Little Sisters of the Poor once a month to spend 5 hours helping the Sisters with their patients, chores and activities. They are called the Hospitality Club. Fitting name as they learn and practice their hospitality.
Lastly, having a personal relationship with the priest and Religious in our own parish is a MUST. I say that but don't always follow my own advice. From a distance, we look like a well-mannered, big, happy family. I don't want to ruin that by getting too close. LOL. I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and make it happen. Fr. Hansen is scheduled for our family dinner on July 21st. Somehow, we need to make this zoo look like a domestic church and don't have much time to do it! Keep us in your prayers!
|Fr. Hansen's 2nd day on the job and playing softball with the youth group in 100+ degree's. What a man!|