Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
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Diocese, Religious orders represented at GU’s second annual vocations fair
by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Regsiter staff
(From the Feb. 26, 2004 edition of the Inland Register)
Father Dan Barnett, pastor of St. Patrick and St. Francis Xavier parishes in Spokane, chats with some of the presenters at last year’s vocations fair on the Gonzaga University campus. (IR photo from Bishop White Seminary)
The second annual Vocations Fair is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 27 in Gonzaga University’s Crosby Student Center in Spokane, starting at 9 a.m.
About 25 Religious orders from both within and outside the diocese will be represented. Also presenting will be Bishop White Seminary, including some of this year’s seminarians and Father Darrin Connall, director of seminarians and vocations for the diocese as well as Bishop White’s rector.
Jesuit Father Matthew Gamber, director of spiritual formation at Bishop White, oversees the fair. The event is “a lot of fun,” he said. Part of the fun is meeting members of various Religious orders and learning about their lives as Religious and/or priests.
Father Gamber explained that the fair makes “Religious and priestly life visible.” Anyone considering a vocation will find the fair a spur to think more deeply about Religious life.
The fair’s site, Crosby Student Center, is the heart of the GU campus, where students come to take care of school and personal business. Those visiting the Center will pass right by the vocations fair display tables, giving them and the Religious an opportunity for conversation.
Sometimes that interchange is lacking in young people’s lives. Many of today’s youth have had little or no exposure to members of Religious orders, or even to their parish priests. A couple of women who entered Religious orders recently echoed that thought: “I didn’t know any Sisters growing up.” Once they became acquainted with Religious Sisters, either through college or work, their own vocation became clearer.
Father Gamber said three women who came to the fair last year attended a “Come and See” weekend with the Sisters of Mary, the Mother of the Eucharist. He also said he knew of other young men and women who are “actively in touch with Religious orders,” exploring God’s call in their lives.
Part of the day’s events include special presentations given by the Religious orders. These can range from music or video to a prayer service. They are often spontaneous and will take place about every half hour.
Holy Names Sister Anne Bosserman, co-director of vocations for her order, was pleased with last year’s fair and enthusiastic about taking part a second time. “It went really well last year,” she said. “The students were really open.” She said several women came to “do an overnight” with the Holy Names Sisters and some have continued with a discernment process.
“Father Connall and Father Gamber have created a positive climate to present consecrated life and priesthood,” she said. “There’s an openness to put it out there for a life choice and we are very appreciative for that climate.”
Sister Colleen Byrne of the Poor Clare Franciscans in Spokane appreciated being able to tell about her order, which is contemplative. “The value for us is to give people an idea who contemplatives are,” she said. “We can give a first-hand look at our life in simple terms and they don’t have to guess about it. They can learn about our family-style life and how we relate to each other.”
“(The fair) is very dynamic,” she said. “It’s a great environment and we had a good response, more than we expected.”
For Father Connall, the value of the fair lies in presenting “a comprehensive look at the culture of vocation in the diocese. It’s another opportunity for those thinking about Religious life, to think more deeply about it. It’s like casting a wide net and we’re happy to be a part of it.”
The day will end with the Stations of the Cross in the GU student chapel (on the third floor of the Administration building) at 3:15 p.m., followed by Mass at 4 p.m. Pizza will be served after Mass and everyone is invited to stay and eat.