Over the course of the last month, three religious communities — the Capuchin Franciscans, the Marian Sisters of Santa Rosa, and the Nashville Dominicans — have visited Thomas Aquinas College to meet with students who are discerning vocations to the religious life. In the upcoming months the College looks forward to additional visits from the Sisters of Life and the vocations director of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
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 on-campus visits usually last several days. “They begin with an evening conference, during which members of the visiting communities discuss their charism and answer students’ questions,” says Fr. Illo. “Then the members stick around for a few days to eat with students in the Commons, conduct individual meetings and, if there is a priest among them, preach at one of the Masses in the Chapel. The extended stay allows the sisters and priests to get ‘face time’ with the students, and to connect on personal level.”
In addition to hosting these on-campus gatherings, the College’s chaplains have also led students on off-campus visits 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.
Posted: November 11, 2013
Mother Teresa Christe, MSSR, speaks to the students of Thomas Aquinas College