Vocations clubs teach students how to find the path to Christ

Father Jeffrey Kirby holds up a vocations club shirt.

Father Jeffrey Kirby holds up a vocations club shirt.SPARTANBURG—Vocations clubs around the Diocese of Charleston are ramping up their efforts to help Catholic school students start the discernment process early in life.

Father Jeffrey Kirby, vicar for vocations, recently visited St. Paul the Apostle School in Spartanburg to give members of the club a symbol of their purpose. Boys received black shirts with a slogan dedicated to St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Catholic priest who was imprisoned in Auschwitz. Girls received blue shirts commemorating St. Cecilia, a Sicilian martyr who is the patron saint of musicians.

The statewide clubs are dedicated to these saints, and the goal is for all active members to receive similar shirts.

Vocations clubs are established and meeting regularly at seven other schools so far. They are Divine Redeemer in Hanahan, Prince of Peace in Taylors, St. Andrew in Myrtle Beach, St. Anthony of Padua in Greenville, St. Francis on Hilton Head, St. Michael in Garden City, and St. Mary Help of Christians in Aiken.

The program has piggybacked on the first club, which started at St. Mary Help of Christians during the 2008-09 school year and is still going strong.

Fourteen other schools have groups in different stages of development, according to figures compiled by the diocesan Vocations Office.

At the meetings, students learn about the options they can pursue in their lives, how to discern a vocation, and important aspects of Catholic teaching such as corporal works of mercy and lives of the saints.

Katherine Brown, faculty leader for the club at St. Paul, said they started organizing in May.

“I’m a product of 12 years of Catholic school, and working with youth and helping them to find their call in life has always been my passion,” she said.

Brown and moderator Shannon Slaughter work with the vocations office and Peggy Wertz, principal of St. Mary Help of Christians, to develop ideas for activities.

The Spartanburg students have to sacrifice a little sleep to meet at 7:15 a.m., before the school day starts.

Nikki Lyons’ two sons — Drew, 12, and Mark, 10 — are both members at St. Paul the Apostle. She’s impressed by the subjects her sons explore at their meetings, and their dedication to the activity.

“I’m excited they started this program, and the boys were excited about it from the beginning,” she said. “The fact that they don’t mind getting to school early for it says a lot about it.”

Drew said he has enjoyed the meetings, especially games and other activities that help them learn about the corporal works of mercy.

“I joined because this club seemed like a good way to discern our vocations in life, and learn about all the different vocations you can have,” he said. “I’ve learned that whether your vocation is to priesthood or single life, married or religious life, all of them can lead you to Christ.”

Photo by Richard Shiro