‘Come and See’ weekend: learning more about religious ministries

ROCK HILL — Thirteen men and women from South Carolina, as well as a participant from Virginia, gathered at The Oratory of St. Philip Neri April 8-11 to discern whether they may have a religious vocation. Young and middle-aged, they included a graphic artist, a prison guard, a teacher, two students, a mechanic, a medical lab technician, an office manager, an accountant, a marine biologist, a marketing representative, a lay minister, and an Army veteran. Five presenters spoke frankly about religious life as priests, sisters and brothers and answered questions about the challenges posed in keeping vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Speakers were Father Dennis B. Willey, vocation director for promotion and recruitment for the Diocese of Charleston; Oratorian Father Edward McDevitt, vocation director for The Oratory of St. Philip Neri; Xaverian Brother James J. Connolly, director of membership for the Brothers of St. Francis Xavier; Ursuline Sister Julienne Guy from the Ursuline Convent in Louisville, Ky.; and Our Lady of Mercy Sister Maureen Tzinieris from the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy in Charleston.

Literature was available regarding diocesan priesthood, the permanent diaconate, Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy, the Trappists from Mepkin Abbey, the Oratorians from The Oratory of St. Philip Neri, the Daughters of St. Paul in Charleston, Belmont Abbey in North Carolina, and other religious communities.

The Diocese of Charleston’s Office of the Vicar for Vocations presents “To Come and See” discernment weekends so people have an opportunity to investigate further God’s call and to begin the journey toward service in the Church or other ministries.

In addition to public promotion, a direct mailing was sent to several men and women who had inquired about a vocation within the past year and to individuals identified by pastors as possible candidates for priesthood or the consecrated life.

“Participants were able to come and learn about different vocations in the Church, especially to priesthood and consecrated life. The experience proved to be very informative for the participants,” said Lisa Horner, assistant to the director of the Office of the Vicar for Vocations. “It was also an opportunity to continue the discernment process through learning about different vocations, discussion and prayer.”

Horner’s thoughts were echoed by weekend attendee Norma Van Amberg. “Whatever path I and the other 12 participants choose, I know that we can claim Romans 8:28: ‘And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.'”

Comments from some of the other event participants included, “The sessions were informative and the stories inspiring. The Oratory is a beautiful, peaceful setting for such weekends.” “The friendships I’ve made have enriched my desire to serve God and increased my awareness of why He called me.” “I came with many questions and they were all answered. I also found some great friends who are experiencing the same things I am going through.”

For information call the Vocations Office at (843) 402-9115 ext. 22.