By Russell Blakeslee
The “Nacho Average Calling” event on Monday brought together a panel of three members of the religious life to talk about vocational discernment, with nachos thematically being served to attendees.
The event was organized by the Catholic Values Task Force of the Student Government Association (SGA). Task forces help with programming through the SGA, and include the Diversity and Green Task Forces. Last year the Catholic Values Task Force was created in the hopes of “putting us back in touch with our Catholic roots,” as senior civil engineering major Owen Salyers described it. Salyers was the first executive director of the new task force.
Included in Monday’s discussion were Brother Tim Blanchard, OFM Conv., a Franciscan brother; Rev. Mark Ivany, a diocesan priest; and Sister Maria Juan Anderson, a Religious Sister of Mercy (RSM). Susan Timoney, Secretary for Pastoral Ministry and Social Concerns for the Archdiocese of Washington, and Adjunct Professor in the School of Theology and Religious Studies, also gave some thoughts on discernment.
Questions came from Nathan Ledoux, Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus at Catholic University, as well as some members of the audience. Each panelist talked about their own discernment process, and how their families reacted to their decisions to enter the religious life.
Anderson, who is from Idaho, flew all the way to Alma, Michigan to join the community of sisters there. Reacting to a visit she made to a community of women religious, she simply stated, “Their life is so great for them.” She talked about how hard it was to give up the ideal of married life with children, and said her mom struggled with the idea, too.
Ivany, who is the Director of Priest Vocations for the Archdiocese of Washington, had a similar experience. He said his spiritual director, “challenged my lukewarm Catholicism… God became more real.” Not only, he added, did the idea of the priesthood become more tangible, “but that [he] could actually be happy doing that.”
Happiness was a common theme throughout the talk. Ivany mentioned how families change as they see their sons and daughters, “become more happy” in their vocations.
Joseph Arbie, a sophomore politics major who attended the talk, agreed and noted that “the Church needs more vocations at this time.”
Timoney expanded upon this, speaking of discernment as having a “fully engaged heart with God,” and recognizing God acting in one’s life. Timoney also spoke of Ignatian Spirituality, referencing the emphasis of Pope Francis, a Jesuit, on discernment as a process crucial for young people.
The night ended with a prayer for vocations by Isaiah Burroughs, a senior politics major representing the Catholic Values Task Force.
The Task Force is continuing to plan events centered on Catholic questions and concerns. In December, it plans to work in conjunction with the Knights of Columbus for Solidarity in Suffering Week, a time to focus on the plight of persecuted Christians.