“Sister, what do you give up for Lent?” This is a common question that Catholic students asked me during Lent.
“Tell me what you gain/receive during Lent?” I responded with a gentle smile
“What do you mean ‘gaining during Lent?’ We are expected to fast or give alms and I have never heard about gaining something during Lent.”
You can tell, most of the time, they were surprised and became curious when hearing “gaining something during Lent”. It made them stop and really ponder what Lent means to them.
This Lent, since I became more involved in vocation ministry, I have had more chances to be with many people through vocation events. I journeyed with and pondered the question “what do I gain from Lent” with me, which kept my eyes, mind and heart open.
Saturday before Ash Wednesday, Sr. Terry Wasinger and I staffed at vocation table at the Louisville Catholic Youth Conference. The attendees were middle and high school students in the Louisville Archdiocese, Kentucky. Sunday, four Dominican sisters (Sr. Luisa Derouen, Sr. Elaine DesRosiers, Sr. Tuyet Tran, and Sr. Terry Wasinger) and I shared our ministry and life at St. John Vianney parish in Louisville for the National Catholic Sister Awareness week. About 70 students and leaders of the Eucharistic Youth group from 12 up to 40 years old participated to this event. When they listened to the presentations, they enthusiastically pondered about the topics and stories sisters shared, which gave me a great hope for the future of the church.
On the first weekend of Lent, associate Rosie Blackburn and I again staffed a vocation table at the Greater Cincinnati Women’s Conference in Ohio. More than one hundred women visited our table. The second weekend of Lent, I participated in a Come and See weekend retreat in Akron, Ohio with discerners and sisters. This retreat was for vocation discernment with the living witness from sisters of how to live out our Dominican mottos “TO PRAISE, TO BLESS, and TO PREACH” in their life and ministry. The burning call to search for a deeper relationship with God and for clarification of God’s call in life and the compassionate call to do God’s will was obvious.
Last weekend, Sr. Kathy Goetz and I were with students at the Benedictine College Vocation Fair. More than 30 religious orders were present. We met students during their school activities including dining, praying, and doing service projects. When being asked whether they were inclined to be sisters or not, most of the students I asked said: “Yes, I am” or “I am open to God either way.” What a beautiful response! How often do you really say such words to yourself and to God?
My Lent has been an itinerant journey, I have been enriched by the faith sharing of many people at these events. Now, I am back in my local community. Every time I go to my community chapel, I see the purple cloth covering the altar which reminds my local community to pray for vocation, especially for those whom we have met and those involved in the vocation ministry. This cloth comes from our “Come and See” retreat. During that retreat, sisters and discerners painted their hands on this cloth, symbolizing their commitment to be God’s hands to the world. The cloth also has names of those who are suffering or have died from the effects of climate change. Now, if you asked me what I gained during Lent, I won’t hesitate to say “I became more deeply appreciative on the beauty of vocational calls and the community of faith. I have received so much support from my local community and at-large community every time I go out for a vocation mission.”
How about you? Have you received or gained anything from Lent? Do you feel you are being to have a deeper level relationship with God and serve God? If so, I invite you to participate into our on-line discernment group or attend our Mission Immersion week (June 1-5 in Columbus, Ohio). Contact us for more information.