Vocations rally for children prescribes a dose of respect

HILTON HEAD — The students who attended the vocations rally held at St. Francis School recently saw a reality show that was not televised on any major network.

The boys and girls saw and heard firsthand from priests and religious sisters, some not long out of school themselves, about what they do, what they like to do and who they really are.

“I like to play basketball, soccer and paintball,” Father Andrew Trapp, age 26, told a group of disbelieving boys.

“I was dating just about to the day I walked into the convent door,” said Sister Pamela Smith, of the Sisters of Sts. Cyril and Methodius.

Those were exactly the comments the group wanted to hear.

The rally is sponsored every four years by the Vocations Committee at St. Gregory the Great Church in Bluffton. This one was hosted by St. Francis, and volunteers set up tables with information about religious orders and seminaries.  

The group of approximately 40 children gathered for lunch then separated into gender groups and watched films. The boys were able to ask questions of the priests and the girls of the Dominican sisters and Sisters of Sts. Cyril and Methodius who were present.

One of the boys asked Father Trapp how long it takes to become a priest.

“It takes six to eight years, kind of like a doctor,” he said. “To be a doctor of souls, it takes a long time to study to get ready.”

When the children reunited in the cafeteria they heard vocations stories. Sister Agnes Marie Winter, SSCM, told the group that she is often told she doesn’t know what life is really like. She explained that she had lived a life not much different from anyone else in the room before she found her vocation. But, she said, there was always something missing.

“Did you ever go to the refrigerator and think ‘I’m hungry but I can’t find what I really want?’ Well that’s what it was like for me before I joined,” she said.

Dominican Sisters Mary Dominic Marsh and Mary Joseph Campbell agreed that the most effective way to foster vocations is for religious to just be present with children and help  teach them.

At the end of the rally, Annie Franklin, age 8, said she wanted to be a sister but she had to think hard when asked why.

“I want to help other people and be closer to God,” she finally said.

She attended with her grandmother, Tina Boyle.

Taylor Blankenship, who said her mother Mary made her come, received  an affirmation for life in the church.

“It’s not that boring,” the 15-year-old said. “I thought all they did was pray and stuff. I learned that they play sports.”

Mary said she wanted Taylor and her 11-year-old son, Conner, to learn more about vocations because at their ages their minds are more open to it.  

“At least they will have more appreciation for them now,” she said.

And though the boys and girls may not have walked out ready to join the seminary or a religious order, they definitely got a healthy dose of respect for the people who give their lives to God — and an A in religion, thanks to Sister Canice Adams, SSCM, principal at St. Gregory.