CRANSTON — Joy radiated from priests, brothers, and consecrated religious at the Family Vocation Day conference last Saturday as they spent the day explaining religious vocations and helping families answer their call to holiness.
The conference, held at Holy Apostles Church, 800 Pippin Orchard Rd., featured vocation talks to young adults, spiritual conferences to adults and parents and activities and games for children.
Renee McInnis of Scituate, a member of Holy Apostles, said that she learned about the event from a flier and was eager to bring her family.
“I was just really interested in meeting the religious people and hearing their stories and to pray for more vocations to emerge in the Church,” she said.
Almost 100 people spent the day socializing and getting to know different religious. The event also featured an inspired talent-show highlighting many hidden talents of priests, religious, and seminarians, such as singing, breakdancing, and beat-boxing.
The Family Vocation Ministries began with the goal of promoting and praying for an increase in vocations by sanctifying family life, said Congregation of the Fathers of Mercy Brother Joseph Aytona of Auburn, Ky., who began the ministry.
“I started this because of a lack of holiness in families and the need for vocations and so I blended them together,” Brother Aytona said.
Brother Aytona said that through Family Vocation Day, individuals become familiar with different aspects of religious life and the seeds are planted within families and the young men and women who attend.
“We don’t have immediate results,” said Brother Aytona. “The young men and women are not entering the religious life the day after they come. It takes time for them to pray and discern. They get to know each other and establish a relationship.”
Nine different religious communities were present, sharing their love of the Church and explaining the goodness of vocations to Catholic families.
“We are all called to some vocation,” said St. Dorothy Sister Colleen Matarese. “You never know what God is calling you to.”
The Strycuol family of Portsmouth explained that they came to the conference to deepen their family’s faith-life.
“It always strengthens your spiritual growth when you do it as a family,” said Wendy Strycuol, who was present with her husband and four of their children. “It’s nice that it’s a family event so we can all come together.”
Family Vocations Day was centered on the Eucharist and included Mass and a holy hour of eucharistic adoration.
In his homily, Father Michael Najim, diocesan vocations director, shared that God has a special calling for each of his children.
“God has a very special plan for you,” said Father Najim. “He may be calling you to be a brother, a priest, or religious sister. Whatever he is calling you to, you will be happy because you will be living the life that God created you to live.”
Father Najim explained that Family Vocation Day plays an important role in the Year of Evangelization and the future of the Church.
“The first teachers of the faith have to be the parents,” said Father Najim. “If parents take teaching the faith seriously and teach their children to be open to God’s will, it will greatly help the Church in the future. This event is perfect for the Year of Evangelization.”
Brother Aytona explained that he has seen his ministry grow as it has expanded to six different dioceses from the west to the east coast. He also added that it does not matter whether 500 or 10 people attend the Family Vocation Day because if one person realizes their calling they can make a difference in the Church.
“It doesn't matter how many people come,” said Brother Aytona. “One priest, like Pope John Paul, could change the whole world. One religious sister, like Mother Teresa, can make a difference.”
Father Najim said that it is important for individuals to put their trust in God and his will so that they may successfully grow in holiness and friendship with the Lord.
“The most important relationship that you and I could have in our lives is with Jesus,” said Father Najim. “As we begin to get to know Jesus more, he begins to show us our calling. He begins to show us what he wants us to do.”
For more information on Family Vocation Days, visit www.familyvocations.org.