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Marriage and Family

Vocations conference helps young adults learn God’s plan for them

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John and Molly Finch speak on married life at the Aug. 7 vocations conference. Held at St. Amelia Parish in Tonawanda, the conference explained the call to marriage, single life, priesthood and religious life. Photo by Nicole Dzimira

The word vocations is usually associated with choosing a career, but the term literally means calling. To follow a vocation is to answer a calling from God to do what He plans for you. A small group of young adults learned what it meant to discern their own vocations during a conference held Aug. 7 at St. Amelia Parish in Tonawanda.

The “Your Life, His Plan” conference saw young adults ages 18-39 hear from people about their vocations to marriage, single life, priesthood and religious life.

Keynote presenter John Finch from the Vigil Project titled his opening speech, “Vocations: An Authentic Expression.”

“We dug into what vocations are,” Finch explained. “Every life is a vocation, that every member of the Church is called to holiness. That means we’re called to love – to love God and love each other. One way we can do that is through our vocation.”

He asked the question, how do you make an authentic expression through a vocation? The answers were prayer, talking about it, and learning from people who are actively in this discernment. That would be priests, religious sisters, married couples, consecrated virgins. Finch also said people should learn about themselves by taking a personality test.

“Personality tests are a great way to get to the bottom of who you are and how you react,” he said.

Finch and his wife, Molly, later led a breakout session on Married Life. During the session, the Finches spoke on intentionality of relationships, expectations before marriage, and building lines of communication. Often, couples must deal with different ideologies developed through their different upbringings.

“The most important thing is being able to communicate with each other, because you’re nothing going to have stuff that you bring into a marriage from both sides of the family; your family of origin,” explained LeVea.

The Finches also spoke about non-negotiables, such as the desire for children.

Father David Baker, director of Vocations for the Diocese of Buffalo, gives a talk on the priesthood to a group of young men discerning their own vocational call. Photo by Nicole Dzimira

“You have to make sure you’re really communicating about that. That’s the cornerstone of the relationship,” said LeVea.

“And not dating just to date. The purpose of the relationship is to get the other to heaven,” added Arnold.

Kate Hahn, who became a consecrated virgin in 2016, spoke on the call to single life. Hahn felt a call while in a dating relationship. The couple took a break to discern where God wanted them.

“For me it was when I was dating and I didn’t know if it was possible to give all of my heart to a physical spouse. I didn’t know if I could give enough of what he deserved when I felt like Jesus was tugging me in a different direction to give Him all of my heart. I didn’t feel I could split it,” she explained.

The more time that goes by the more clarity she has that this is where Jesus was calling her.

Participants in the breakout session asked where she found support, as she is not living in an order the way religious sisters do. Hahn explained that she relies on spiritual direction as well as friends, and talking it through her major life decisions with Jesus.

Bishop Michael W. Fisher closed out the day by celebrating Mass. He paralleled the fortifying conference with the story of Elijah being nourished before journeying towards Mount Sinai.

“Do we ever think about how important our journey with God is? Our spiritual journey?” he asked. “Our spiritual journey is no different than our physical journeys that we might take in life. Do we make it as important? Do we make those preparations that we need to make to go on this journey with the Lord? Sadly, too many of us these days don’t realize that you are not only on a journey through this life, but a spiritual journey with God. Even if we do understand to some extent that we are on this journey, do we understand we also need to be nourished along the way and how we’re doing that?”

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