Christendom College hosted a newly revised Discernment Weekend for students on 23-25 February. Students gathered in record numbers with priests and religious from across the country for a time of discussion and prayerful reflection.
Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde launched the weekend with an opening Mass and dinner on Friday evening. In his homily, Loverde told students, “You are here to listen attentively to the Lord-to listen to what God wants you to do.”
Quoting John Paul the Great, Loverde said that God gave us individual life projects and that there are particular lives that God is calling the students to.
“Whatever the particular vocation that God is inviting you to,” he continued, “love is at its center—love of God and others… Dear young people discerning, I do not know the life project—the vocation—that God is calling you to, but whatever it is, He desires you to reveal His love to others. My prayer is that you follow his guiding light. Dare to love,” he concluded.
Founder of Priests for Life Rev. Frank Pavone gave the opening address on Saturday morning entitled “Master Where Do You Stay?” Dealing With Uncertainty in Discernment.
“If you get close to God, you are going to want to run away. We have to understand this dynamic if we’re going to understand discernment. Somebody feels the initial call, the attractiveness of a vocation…then they start to walk toward this and then they suddenly feel I am not worthy,” Pavone said.
“Brothers and sisters, we have to feel I am not worthy, but that does not mean I am not called,” he continued, “Any journey of discernment is going to have that tension in it… What this tension means is that I am called to be purified and to accept something of which I will never be worthy… No matter the vocation, every human being is called to life-giving self-sacrificing love.”
“Whatever our vocation is, it is always shaped by the needs of the Church and society at a particular point and time,” Pavone continued. “Brothers and sisters, in our time we live amongst a culture of death, no matter what particular vocation we have, if it is a vocation in the United States of America in the year 2007, it must be marked by a particularly strong commitment to defend the sacred dignity of every human life.”
The day continued with Exposition and Adoration of the Eucharist with opportunities for Confession. Lunch followed and students were given the opportunity to socialize with the many priests and religious, many of whom where Christendom Alumni themselves.
The afternoon featured a series of Breakout Sessions on a variety of vocations topics including: Marriage as a Vocation, The Diocesan Priesthood, How to Foster Priestly Vocations in Your Family, Discerning Your Vocation While Still Single, The Consecrated Religious Sister and many others.
“Fr. Pavone’s talk was excellent,” Sophmore Ali Schuberg said. “It was a really interesting experience speaking with the different nuns.”
Freshman Katie Erwin agreed. “It was so nice to have all the different orders there. You could just walk up to any of them and ask questions. I especially enjoyed the talk Gerard Anthony (College Alumnus ’02) gave.”
“I told Fr. Pavone before his talk that if there were more than 100 students at his talk at 9:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning, he should take it as a huge compliment,” Director of Alumni and Career Development Tom McGraw said. “I think there were at least 200 students there, maybe 250. The Commons was packed and people were standing in the back.”
Director of Vocations for the Arlington Diocese Fr. Brian Bashista was there and affirmed, “If we could have wished for a talk for the college students to hear, this talk was it.”
Saturday night, after the events, priests and religious joined students in The St. Kilian’s Café, playing cards, and unwinding after the big weekend.
“It was very clear that the Holy Spirit was the main designer and planner of this weekend!” McGraw said.