BY: REGINA PLANCHET
The Finnegan Fieldhouse on the campus of Franciscan University of Steubenville was filled with men and women young and old, members of religious orders or dioceses for the annual Vocations Fair.
Some of the priests and religious were alumni of Franciscan, returning to their alma mater to promote their religious order or diocese.
“I’m here at the fair out of obedience, and also to have a chance to share my life and talk to people about joining,” said Will Dodd, ’12, a postulant with the TOR friars.
Dodd said he felt the call to religious life while at Franciscan. “It wasn’t a booming voice, but I came to realize that to join the TORs was following the desires of my heart.”
Sr. Mary Markita, TOR, graduated in 2003.
“I had thought about religious life before, but then when I came to Franciscan I discovered that there were good Catholic men, so I thought more about marriage instead,” she said. “I took a class on St. Francis and I knew I would be a Franciscan no matter what. At the time I thought I would be a secular Franciscan. I talked to a friar here and he encouraged me to be open. It was in being open that I realized that I was called to being a sister.”
Markita also said that she had gone to the vocations fair as a student, even though she avoided it when she believed she was called to marriage. “I’m glad to be back at the fair because I love being at Franciscan, plus its right here. It’s also a blessing to see the other religious here as well as the students that are considering religious life.”
Another TOR sister and alumna was Sr. Agnes Therese Davis, ’09.
“During my time at the university I had a conversion and came to know the Lord in a different way through daily adoration,” she said.
Davis said she met a Nashville Dominican in one of her classes who was a great example of religious life. She considered joining the Nashville Dominicans because they had everything they wanted, but when she visited them she didn’t feel peace. “Then I decided, ‘I might as well check out the TORS since they’re right here,’ and I felt at home with them during the retreat.”
Promoting the Servants of Christ Jesus was Brother Paul Kostka. Kostka grew up in Houston and wasn’t very involved in his faith until a Franciscan student gave a talk at a Confirmation retreat Kostka was attending. Kostka said the talk was influential in his conversion, and after his conversion realized he was called to the priesthood. “I came to Franciscan and was in AMDG, and while I was here I discerned the religious life.” Kotska added that he came to the fair to meet people and will be helping with AMDG’s retreat this weekend.
Representing the Sisters of Reparation was Sr. John Mary, ’11. “At age ten I felt called to religious life and I felt called to an order dedicated to the Sacred Heart and that had Eucharistic adoration,” she said. “I found the community of the Sisters of Reparation when I was bringing my older sister to Franciscan, because the order is based in Steubenville. I was 16 at the time and I joined when I was 18.” Mary then attended Franciscan as a religious and received her Bachelor’s degree in theology and catechetics and her master’s in theology. She said her order comes to the fair every year.
Kathleen Winger was at the table representing a cloistered Carmelite community in Utah. Winger is going to graduate in December and will join the community following graduation.
“I actually met the community at the vocations fair in 2009, which was the first time they came to the fair,” Winger said. Winger said she had felt called to the Carmelites but didn’t think a cloistered order was for her, since she was so outgoing. “While talking to the sisters at the fair I realized I had had so many misconceptions about cloisters and they knocked down every single one of those misconceptions. I talked to them for two hours. I visited other communities but kept coming back to this community. I did my live-in with the community and I realized it’s where I’m supposed to be.”