Sometimes faith in action starts early.
That’s the premise behind a program at Mother Teresa Catholic Elementary School to introduce students to religious vocations and teach them more about religious life. Students from fifth through eighth grades will have the opportunity to discuss religious vocations and meet with men and women religious during quarterly events at the school. The effort is directed by Precious Blood Sister Anne Schulz, the school’s principal, and religion teacher Dacia Daniels.
About 20 students attended the first event March 7, which featured Sister Anne and Father Kyle Schnippel, vocations director for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Father Kyle explained the process of becoming a priest, the life of a priest and the importance of being open to God’s call.
Sharing his own vocation story, Father Kyle explained that he was in college when he felt a call to the priesthood. At first he didn’t believe it was real, he said, but today he wouldn’t give up his priestly vocation for anything.
Likewise, Sister Anne explained that she first became interested in religious life when she attended a vocations event while in high school. She ended up bringing home a flyer from the Sisters of the Precious Blood and eventually came to the convent.
As part of the evening, students asked questions about religious life. Some of the topics included how a priest becomes pope, the differences between diocesan priests and religious communities, and the meaning of church symbols. Sister Anne also explained the various vocations in the church, including married and single life.
Sharing these stories and talking about religious life can spawn interest in religious life and cause people – especially students – to contemplate their own call, Sister Anne said.
“If they start thinking about it they realize it could be an option for them,” Sister Anne said. “Most of our kids don’t see religious. They hear about them.”
Plans for future events include trips to Mount Saint Mary of the West Seminary in Cincinnati and Salem Heights, the Precious Blood Sisters Motherhouse in Dayton. Members from other religious communities will be invited to speak to the group.
Sister Anne, who has served as vocations director for the Sister of the Precious Blood in the past, came up with the idea for the program. Daniels helped organize it.
“Families are so busy and the fact that we are at a Catholic school means it’s our responsibility to open their eyes to the world of being Catholic. It’s an extension of our role here at the school,” Daniels said. “I think it meant a lot to them to hear Sister’s story. They know she’s a nun, but they don’t understand what her religious life is about.”
The students said they enjoyed the evening and are looking forward to future gatherings.
“I wanted to go because I wanted to learn more about vocations,” said Anna Meister, a sixth grader at Mother Teresa School. “I learned that there are so many more vocations than just being a Sister or Brother.”