Published April 6, 2006
At the annual vocations fair participants had an opportunity to explore the various ways to live out the calling that God has for them.
Held March 11 at the Cathedral of Christ the King, the fair began with a Mass celebrated by Father Tim Hepburn, assistant archdiocesan vocations director and chaplain at the Catholic Center at Emory University. Beside him were 10 other priests, many of whom serve in religious orders.
In his homily, Father Hepburn walked around the sanctuary while animatedly peppering his words with Scripture passages.
Though marriage is the vocation most are called to, Father Hepburn said, no matter what a person’s vocation, he or she must live it only by the grace of God.
“When you think about what the Lord is calling you to, no matter what it is, you have to really come to the realization that it is impossible to live the calling of the Lord by your own strength, and if you try to, I promise you, you will fail.”
“I wish more married people understood that, that the heart of the marriage vows are not just about binding yourself to another person, but binding yourself to Jesus,” he said. “If you’re going to fulfill your vocation, it has to be because you’ve bound yourself to Jesus.”
When people are called to a vocation, they may find excuses to stop them from fully living out that call, believing they are not holy enough or strong enough, Father Hepburn said. But God has the power to transform.
“God is saying ‘Don’t you think I love you enough?’” he said. “God is calling you to stand up in Christ and to embrace what he is calling you to in your life. You just have to say yes to the next step.”
During the Mass, awards were given to students for the poster and essay contests sponsored by the Serra Club of Northwest Atlanta.
In the poster contest in grades kindergarten through fourth grade, first place went to Elizabeth Carr, fourth grade, Christ the King School, Atlanta. In second place was Rebekah Eubanks, third grade, St. Thomas More School, Decatur; in third place was Sterling DeSantis, fourth grade, Christ the King School.
In the poster contest among fifth- through eighth-grade students, first place went to Alex Achrage, eighth grade, St. Jude the Apostle School, Atlanta. Second place went to Marina Abe, eighth grade, St. Mary’s School, Rome; third place was won by Niki Miller, also an eighth-grade student from St. Jude’s.
In the essay contest, which was offered to high school students, first place was awarded to Kelly Quindlen of Blessed Trinity High School in Roswell, while both second and third places went to students from Our Lady of Mercy High School in Fairburn, Matt FitzGerald and Matthew Lethbridge, respectively.
Following the Mass, participants gathered in the Cathedral’s parish hall, where a contingent from the archdiocesan vocations office and representatives from several religious orders were on hand with information.
Sister Maria Fidelis Gray, OP, said that her order, the Nashville Dominicans, hopes to attract people who possess “generosity, joy and love for the church.”
“When I was discerning, what stood out for me (about the Nashville Dominicans) was joy. All the sisters were so joyful,” she said.
Father Bill Rowland, SM, the director of vocations for the Atlanta Province of Marist Fathers and Brothers, said that their order’s special devotion to Mary attracts men who “seek Mary as a model of discipleship for the church.”
They also hope to find men who show compassion and mercy, “especially in a world with so much violence. We need people who see the world differently,” he said.
If a person feels called to a vocation with a religious order, Father Rowland said, he or she should pray first.
“But you can’t beat visiting a community and meeting their vocations director, even for a weekend or a couple of days.”
Father Brian Higgins, vocations director for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, believes strongly that there are people who are called to the priesthood and religious life.
“There are so many wonderful vocations out there,” he said. “For those of you who are being called, we need you. The church needs you today more than ever. For the rest of us, our job is to help these people respond to their call by praying hard for wonderful vocations, for young men and young women who will set this church ablaze.”