Yesterday, at around 1730 hours, we began the sharing of vocation stories. We had to wait a bit for the youth to turn up. Saturday evenings are not the best time for any youth programs, we are learning, because so many of them are busy with tuitions. At any rate, at first there were more religious than youth, but then slowly the youth began to trickle in, backed up especially by 3 young hostelites from Maria Vihar.
Sr Mariette, UMI shared her vocation story first - how she, the youngest of 3 sisters, had to fight for her vocation and join the convent against the wishes of her dad. She was followed by Bro Royston Colaco, SDB, from STI, who is a Salesian Brother. His story was quite dramatic - how he was a rough and tough fellow, with his own gang, and their adventures, and how, finally, he discovered a vocation and joined the Salesians. Some of the youth felt absolutely at home with this story, especially when Royston said that God does not always call only those who are 'good' or those who are Altar Servers. He said he had never been an Altar Server.
Royston was followed by Srs Anita and Sushma, both Salesian Sisters. Anita spoke in Marathi and everyone was following very keenly. She explained what it means to join a religious congregation from a khedegaon, how she had to take the permission of all her large joint family, and so on. Sr Sushma's story was interesting. She lived in Bandra and discovered a Salesian vocation quite by chance - or by God's design. It seems an elderly Salesian sister was searching for a cake shop, and asked a boy. The boy, quite distracted, told her there was a Catholic family on the 2nd floor. She went up, thinking they were making cakes, and found Sushma alone in the house. From there the story of the vocation took off.
Fr Wyman said his story was quite ordinary and at the same time quite mysterious. Fr Oscar Misquitta beckoned him over communion in Don Bosco's Shrine, Matunga, to meet him after mass. The priest told him to join Lonavla, with its swimming pool, horse riding and snowfalls. After that, the young Wyman did his best to escape Fr Oscar. His mother even would stand KV at the door of the church, give the all clear, and then Wyman would make a dash for the bus stop. But God has his own ways, and got somehow to Wyman, much to the initial distress of his dear mother. But Father was cool, and told him to follow his heart.
Sushma Srivastava asked the religious about their difficulties: do they face any? How do they handle them? Sr Sushma said there were difficulties in adjusting to people from different cultures, and then also people fall in love, and so on. Fr Vinod spoke about something else, which I can't quite remember now. I myself mentioned the financial difficulties that many families go through when someone joins the seminary - like I myself realized only much later that my going to the seminary had put quite a burden on my younger brother and sister, who, at the time, were still studying, with dad retiring from work and all that.
I ended the evening with a small comment. The point of the sharing was not so much to do 'vocation propaganda' for priests and nuns and brothers, but to get each young person asking herself or himself: What is God calling me to do with my life? We are convinced that God has called each one to do something wonderful with his or her life. It is time to ask that question, with some seriousness. And perhaps there will be some who find that he is calling them to religious life or to the priesthood. But all will have some call or other. Living life authentically means taking the time to ask that question, taking the time to listen, and having the courage to say Yes!
A very warm thank you to all those who took the trouble to share their vocation stories. Thank you, dear sisters and brothers and fathers! We appreciate very much the trouble you have taken, and you have warmed our hearts. It was good.
By the time we finished, we were about 25 or 28 of us, because the youth kept trickling in all through the evening, which is something to be appreciated, because many of them came in straight after tuitions.