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Awakened by the Spirit – Called to Discipleship

[caption id="attachment_3660" align="alignright" width="200"]Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP[/caption] Gold ribbons waving through the air accompanied the opening song, Envia tu Espiritu - Send out your Spirit, of the National Religious Vocation Conference's convocation in Overland Park, KS. The Spirit was indeed alive and flowing throughout the entire gathering of 300 Vocation Ministers from the US and around the world. Sr. Pat Dual, OP, and I attended and were enriched by our time with our fellow vocation ministers, discerners, supporters, presiders and presenters. On Saturday, we were joined by six young religious who were invited to be panelists for a conversation about religious life today, discernment, thoughts on the present and future realities of their respective congregations and words of wisdom for those discerning a vocation to religious life. I was touched, inspired, challenged and so proud of these men and women who have courageously and selflessly embraced this counter-cultural vocation in today's world. [caption id="attachment_4128" align="alignleft" width="400"]Panelists Panelists waiting in the wings[/caption]   I was impressed by the panelists' articulate and heartfelt responses to Deacon Pedro's questions and those questions sent in by discerners in real-time as the panel was being webcast and broadcasted live on the website and also on Salt and Light TV in Canada. The four women and two men comprising the panel ranged in age from 25 to 45, hailed from the US, Mexico and Nigeria, and represented contemplative as well as apostolic congregations. One of the Sisters, a Carmelite contemplative from Baltimore, shared that she left behind a practice as a dental surgeon to enter the Carmelite monastery. With great joy and simplicity, Sr. Cecelia Ashton, OCD shared, "My hope is that my presence here might reveal something of God's love to our world. For I believe we are called to love God, to love one another, and to live within the brokenness of our Church, our world, our families, and our communities." Yes, it all comes down to love. I too believe that we can be witnesses of that love of God in our world and that as the Face of God's Mercy we can bring healing, wholeness and hope to our world which so desperately needs it. The entire convocation was a moment of grace and hope for me. Witnessing the deep conviction that God continues to call men and women to religious life has inspired me in my life and ministry of sharing the incredible joy and blessing of this way of life. Amidst so much in the world that only reflects darkness, I commit each day to becoming ever more that Face of God's Mercy that the world and those discerning a call to religious life need. How will you be the Face of God's Mercy to others today?

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