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Priests discuss vocations with students at SMC

Alicia Smith | Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Saint Mary’s Campus Ministry invited students to participate in casual discussion with several priests Monday about the call to vocation.   

Students listened to the stories of local priests’ trail to religious life. Fr. John Pearson of Campus Ministry, Fr. John Patrick Riley, associate pastor of St. Joseph Parish in South Bend and Deacon Kevin Grove also of St. Joseph visited the College to discuss their paths to the priesthood.

“I think what happened to me is once I started it I just gradually gradually became family and I began to understand something about how God is calling me to a life where I would take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and I would live with this community and I would help this community and they would help me to find our way to God,” Pearson said.

Called “The Religious Life Roundtable,” the discussion offered students the perspective of local religious as they reflected on their call to vocation. The Roundtable was created by students in collaboration with Campus Ministry. The meetings allowed students to participate in casual conversations with religious about their calling to join the religious family.

“In the seventh grade I came down to Notre Dame to Holy Cross Seminary which no longer stands and spent a week learning about the community,” Pearson said.

Pearson said he determined he wanted to become religious at a young age and said he was inspired by the sisters that lived in his community.

“I remember that I just was inspired by this notion which the sisters gave, which I still believe very much, sometimes, you’re called to live the gospel in a very specific way,” Pearson said.

Riley also gave his account of his calling to the priesthood. He said he did not think of joining religious life until after college. Riley graduated from Notre Dame and found his passion for service while a student.

“One day in [St. Edward’s Hall], my roommates were going to go do a service project through the dorm at the Center for the Homeless. They were like ‘John, you should come along,'” Riley said. “So we go to the Center for the Homeless and it was one of the greatest days of my life. I couldn’t believe it.”

Riley also discussed his service work in Phoenix, Ariz., with the group.

Grove said that his first calling occurred in the third grade, though he did not agree to his calling until much later.

“In that instance in third grade we were going around and talking about what we wanted to do and I mentioned that I wanted to be a priest,” Grove said.

Grove said that though he thought about the prospect of becoming a priest in the third grade, he kept pushing the thought from his mind. It wasn’t until he visited the Holy Cross Congregation that he decided.

“Finally I went on a graduate school tour … and the last place I stopped on my tour was to visit with some faculty over at Notre Dame and just went to a daily mass while I was there. I heard a great homily about Holy Cross. I picked up the vocation brochure,” Grove said. “The more I read the more something about it seemed to fit.”

The discussion Monday night ended with a song and collective prayer.  The next discussion will be held on Feb. 22.