'Jesus Calls Women!'
By DAVID MYERS
Southwest Kansas Register
On the freshly mowed lawn of the back yard of the Catholic chancery -- under a deep blue sky as a statue of Mary stood nearby at the base of a towering tree -- some 22 girls and young women from across the diocese learned that Jesus is calling them by name to a particular vocation.
“Our approach in the prayer and in the whole evening was to affirm the fact that Jesus does call women to follow him,” said Sister Karen Salsbery, CSJ, one of three women Religious who spoke at the “Jesus Calls Women” gathering June 22. Also speaking were Sisters Arlene Vasquez, MCDP, and Rocio Maldonado, MCMI.
“He calls each one to her particular vocation which could be religious life, married life or single life,” she told the Register. “Our focus was on religious life, since many of the young never have an opportunity to meet Sisters. We wanted to provide an opportunity for them to learn more and to interact with some Sisters. It is a fact that today many young women are interested in learning more about religious life.”
The event was organized by Becky Hessman, Coordinator of Vocations for the Diocese of Dodge City. The evening included prayer, dinner, a video presentation and presentations by the sisters about their vocations. It also offered a time simply to share conversation.
The Holy Spirit may not need a conduit to get God’s voice across, but it certainly helps.
“One thing we learned is that many of the women who came were encouraged by their parents and that is really nice to hear,” Sister Karen said. “That is not always the case. Of course, parents are concerned and rightly so, that their children make good, discerned decisions.”
She also was encouraged by the fact that many girls said that their friends and siblings urged them to attend the evening.
“For me it sounds like how the church grows -- one person invites another to come,” Sister Karen said. “Isn’t that how the faith is spread? We share with one another. We help each other hear the call. It is in our families, in relationship with our friends and others, within our faith communities that we hear and answer the call. We really cannot make the journey of discernment alone.
“We never dreamed we would have such a great response,” she added.
The evening began with an ice-breaker so that the participants, who came from Garden City, Liberal, Cimmaron, Lewis, Dodge City, and Kinsley, could get to know one another.
Then, Sister Karen said, the group “prayed together using the scripture passage from the Gospel of St. Mark where Jesus calls the disciples. We watched the DVD, ‘Jesus Calls Women’, which covers a variety of Religious Congregations, including both active, apostolic congregations and cloistered orders. Becky arranged for a wonderful barbecue in the yard of the chancery. We then went inside to hear the vocation stories of the Sisters in the group and gave the participants a chance to ask questions.”
Although Hessman has hosted similar gatherings in the past, she said that this was by far the best attended.
“It was a joy seeing so many girls interested in learning about Religious life,” she said. “We had 22 girls attend, from fourth grade to college age, along with two mothers. The girls were excited to have a vocation event especially for them.”
“Having a vocation event in Dodge City was something we have really wanted to do for a long time,” Sister Karen noted. “For the last two or three years, we [CSJs – Sisters of St. Joseph] have had a booth in Dodge City at the Stewardship Conference, and as I staffed the booth, I found that people are so open and welcoming, so I am grateful that we could hold this event. None of it would have been possible without Becky Hessman’s work in getting the word out and making all the behind-the-scenes plans.”
For more information, go to www.dcdiocese.org/vocations, or call Becky Hessman at (620) 227-1530.