On Oct. 13, the Finnegan Fieldhouse was flooded with vocation directors, priests, brothers and sisters to promote vocational discernment and opportunities to Franciscan University students during the annual Vocations Awareness Fair.
Sponsored by the Priestly Discernment Program (PDP), the fair invited over 50 religious communities and dioceses to the university. Each community had a table to display information about themselves and a representative from that community—usually a priest, brother or sister.
The communities represented included cloistered orders, missionary orders and more parish-oriented. These included the Diocese of Toledo, OP East (Dominican), the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, the Assumptionists and the Sisters of Mary Morning Star—among many others.
During the fair, priests, brothers and sisters offered their stories of how they discovered their vocation in their specific community. For example, one priest from the Diocese of Steubenville applied to the diocese because of his connection to Steubenville, the community in which he grew up.
When the day started, the communities arrived on campus needing to transport their materials and items from their vehicles to the Fieldhouse. In addition to receiving help from events staff, students in the Priestly Discernment Program assisted the community representatives by helping them carry their items from their cars to the Fieldhouse. When the event ended, the men helped them carry their items back to their cars.
Throughout the day, students went in and out of the Fieldhouse to inquire about the different communities—and get some of the snacks at the tables. There was much discussion, reading and planning at the tables. Some tables gave away scapulars, medals and holy cards. Others had sign-up sheets, brochures or just posters with important information.
A few tables advertised upcoming come and see retreats, such as a Dominican retreat during the upcoming fall break. Others advertised missionary programs during the summer, in order to further discern their order. Others simply had a lively priest or religious ready and eager to share his or her joy with the students.
The students greatly appreciated the opportunity to see so many opportunities to discern their vocation. Toan Cao, a junior member of the PDP, appreciated the opportunity to talk with a priest from a community he recently visited. Cao recounted that he liked that “we had a grand time; we were laughing … the fact that he was able to sit down with me on a one-on-one level was a gift to me.” The exposure to so many charismata and spiritualities was a genuine benefit to those seriously—or even casually—trying to discern God’s will for their life.