COLORADO SPRINGS. More than 600 students from the Pikes Peak region visited St. Mary’s High School on Jan. 31 to participate in Embrace Vocations Day. The event was designed to give kids the opportunity to learn about the various vocations to which they might be called — including the priesthood, permanent diaconate, marriage and consecrated religious life.
Patti Morgan, a member of St. Peter Parish in Monument, had organized the event at St. Peter School for the past few years. This year, Embrace Vocations was held at Saint Mary’s High School and was open to the public. Morgan said she wanted Embrace to highlight the dedication Saint Mary’s has to its students in shaping them and guiding them towards a future rooted in faith.
The event was designed to put representatives of religious orders and other vocations in an accessible and relatable venue, giving children a chance to hear testimonies, learn how to worship in adoration, and witness the joy that comes with pursuing God’s will. At the event, students attended mass, participated in activities, listened to talks, and sang and prayed at adoration.
“I wanted this event to light them on fire about their faith and encourage them to embrace their Catholic identity so they can attend events where they can be fed,” said Morgan.
She said she thinks that holding the Embrace Vocations event at Saint Mary’s was the “hidden treasure” needed to make it flourish because it provided an environment where “kids felt safe standing up for their faith.”
This became literal when Bishop Sheridan addressed the crowd, asking if any students discerning the religious life would stand up. Over 50 students rose from their seats. Bishop Sheridan then called them to the front to receive a blessing.
Hannah Smith, a local youth minister who sang for the students at adoration and gave talks to junior high girls, identified this moment as her favorite part of the day.
“There was no hesitation — “the kids (who were discerning) stood immediately up, so boldly, and literally marched to the front, beaming. A lot of them might not end up (as priests or sisters), but the fact that they are boldly considering it is really cool.”
There were roughly 45 religious and consecrated men and women at the event, including several Missionaries of Charity, Father Anthony Ariniello from the Community of the Beatitudes and Father Andre Mahanna, a native of Lebanon who is pastor of St. Rafka Maronite Church in Denver.
“Because Embrace Vocations Day was so wildly successful, the Saint Mary’s staff has decided to make it an annual event for their school,” Morgan said.
(Katie Reininger is a member of St. Peter Parish in Monument.)