Catholic Schools Week: Join a vocations club

Interested in vocations to the priesthood or religious life? Join the club.
Ten Catholic schools in the diocese launched new vocations clubs during Catholic Schools Week. They are modeled after two clubs started at St. Mary Help of Christians School in Aiken during the 2008-09 school year. Since then, annual membership has averaged about 100 students, said Peggy Wertz, principal.
Students usually meet monthly, and learn about saints, moral values and virtues, and the importance of discerning God’s call in their lives. The Office of Vocations coordinates the effort with support from the Catholic Schools Office.
Father Jeffrey F. Kirby, vicar for vocations, helped start the group.
“The clubs are part of an overall strategic plan to promote vocations throughout the diocese,” Father Kirby said. “We really want awareness to begin in elementary and middle school.”
Boys can join the Father Kolbe Club, named after Father Maximilian Kolbe (St. Maximilian), a Polish priest who volunteered to be executed in Auschwitz in place of a man who had a wife and children. Girls’ clubs will be named after St. Cecilia, a second-century martyr and the patron saint of musicians.
New groups will start at St. Gregory the Great in Bluffton, Charleston Catholic, St. Joseph in Columbia, St. Michael in Garden City, Divine Redeemer in Hanahan, St. Francis on Hilton Head Island, Christ Our King/Stella Maris in Mount Pleasant, Our Lady of Peace in North Augusta, and Prince of Peace in Taylors.
Wertz said students learn about all vocations in life, including marriage and being a committed single. In Aiken, priests and women religious have visited to discuss their faith journey.
“We don’t have as many women religious and priests present in our schools as we used to, and the club is an opportunity for young people to learn there are many ways you can serve God,” Wertz said. “It puts vocations out there as a viable option for them.”
Rose Tindall, principal at St. Joseph in Columbia, said they already promote vocations with activities such as “Adopt a Seminarian,” where each classroom follows a diocesan seminarian and prays for them during their journey to the priesthood.
“For us, the club will be part of a natural progression because we already have a heightened awareness of vocations,” she said. “This is going to help us build on the foundation we’ve already started for our students.”