On October 9, I (Sr. Mary Cecilia) represented the community at the Vocation Awareness Day at Franciscan University of Steubenville. I had never been to Franciscan University before, but fortunately for me I was attending with not 1, but 3 friars! Fr. Benedict Croell, OP (St. Joseph Province), Fr. Lawrence Lew, OP (England), and Fr. Colm Mannion, OP (Ireland) were my trusty companions on the adventure!
We had an early start from St. Dominic’s Parish in Youngstown in order to arrive and set up before the doors opened at 9am. Upon our arrival we were greeted by many student volunteers who were eager to help us to the Fieldhouse with our materials. After being directed to our tables and setting up our displays, I had a little time to get a quick (and very needed!) cup of coffee.This also gave me an opportunity to meet some of the other communities who were attending. After some quick introductions and hellos it was time to head back to my table and start handing out brochures and lollipops!
I can only imagine what it might have looked like for some of the participants to come down and see “Dominican Alley” - all the Dominican communities were lined up in a row! In total there were 14 Dominicans present representing the contemplative life, 3 active congregations as well as the friars from the Eastern and Western Provinces. I enjoyed explaining how the nuns’ prayers are the foundation of their preaching activities! With about 70 communities and dioceses representated it is a great opportunity to see the variety of ways that one can be called to serve the Church.
My brief visit to Franciscan was very encouraging. I had many good conversations throughout the day with young women (and a few young men) who are very honest and sincere in their search for God’s will for their lives, including an 8-year old who wants to be a nun when she grows up! And even if some of them aren’t sure if God is calling them to religious life they were very interested to hear about the monastic life. But one of the highlights for me had to be attending Mass on campus - how can you not be joyful when seeing a chapel filled with young Catholics!
Before getting back on the road we made a quick stop at the Portiuncula to visit the Blessed Sacrament to give thanks to the Lord for the blessings of the day, and to pray for all those we met. It was a great blessing for me to attend and I left encouraged in my own vocation and filled with hope for the future of religious life in the Church.