On Monday, members of the Sisters of Life visited Thomas Aquinas College to meet with students who may be discerning vocations to the religious life. The community, founded by John Joseph Cardinal O’Connor, is dedicated to serving pregnant women in crisis and to championing the pro-life cause. The Sisters visited the College en route to the 2014 Walk for Life West Coast, where they will march alongside some 50,000 other pro-lifers, including more than 200 of the College’s students.
Historically about 10 percent of the College’s graduates enter the priesthood or religious life. Five members of last year’s 91-member graduating class, for example, have already entered seminaries or religious orders, and Head Chaplain Rev. Joseph Illo anticipates that several current students will follow suit. “Usually we will get about 15-20 students at each one of the vocations presentations, which is a good, healthy number,” he reports. “Vocations directors love to come to the College for that reason.”
The Sisters’ visit to campus is one of an ongoing series of vocation talks, arranged by Fri. Illo, that allow vocations directors “to get ‘face time’ with the students, and to connect on personal level.” Other orders that have visited this academic year include the Capuchin Franciscans, the Marian Sisters of Santa Rosa, and the Nashville Dominicans. In addition to hosting these on-campus gatherings, the College’s chaplains have also led students on off-campus trips to various religious communities in Southern California, including the Missionaries of Charity, the Western Province Dominicans, and the Norbertine fathers and sisters.
“I urge the students, even if a consecrated vocation is not on their radar, to attend one of these events simply to discover the Holy Spirit’s movements in the Church today and to advise others who may be discerning a consecrated vocation,” says Fr. Illo. The visiting religious, he adds, are always “well received” by the students, and they leave campus “delighted” by the young people they meet who are eager to discern and answer God’s call in their lives.