Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 27, 1999
God makes his will clear
Vocations weekend gives focus to those discerning God's will
By LELLA BLUMER
Special to the WCR
Dru Adamyk has felt a call to religious life since she was a child. But she managed to "put it on the back burner" more than once - until last weekend.
"I think God finally lost patience with me, and said 'I'm going to sit you down somewhere where you'll have to listen,'" she says with a laugh.
That "somewhere" was the Called to the Father through Service weekend held at Camp Oselia Sept. 17-19.
The retreat is held annually by the Alberta Vocation Directors' Executive. It's an opportunity for those who sense a call to a religious vocation to explore that call more deeply.
This year, 35 participants gathered to pray, contemplate and listen to speakers share their experience of priesthood, religious life and secular consecrated life. Others talked about how religious and priestly vocations influenced their lives as laypeople.
For Adamyk, the weekend provided confirmation of a call that had always been there.
"I came with no expectations; I just wanted to be open to what would happen, because God works in so many different ways."
Adamyk, 45, and president of the CWL at Annunciation Parish, says she's "sure now" that she wants to enter religious life, although she's not sure where that will take her.
Ihor Holinka says the retreat was an opportunity to answer some questions he has been wrestling with for awhile.
"I don't know whether it will crystallize things for me, and it probably won't because discernment is an ongoing journey. But certainly it's an important stepping stone in the process."
Holinka says he found it easy to relate to the experiences the speakers shared about their sense of being called.
"There is a lot of commonality there, so I feel I'm not totally off base. What others have to say forms a more complete picture in my mind."
Adamyk says she too was struck by the speakers' willingness to share their experiences. "It helps us, who are trying to discern, to listen to others who already have this love affair with God, and hear how God has touched their lives."
Sister Diane Turner, a Franciscan sister teaching in Cochrane, told the group how she was "struck to the core" by the story of St. Francis when she was 16, after watching the movie Brother Sun, Sister Moon.
"It portrayed Francis as someone full of joy in the Lord, full of life." she says. From that moment on she learned everything she could about him.
Her plan was to become the first Franciscan nun in the United Church, but through a series of events and interventions by friends, she eventually became a Catholic and took her vows in 1990.
The effect on her family was difficult, Turner says, because it was so clear that for her God came first.
"I always longed to do God's will. I had a strong sense that fulfillment comes from doing what God wants me to do.
"I believe that God's desire is written inside us so deeply that it becomes our desire. If we hear our own deep desire, we are hearing God."
The sharing among speakers and retreat participants is key to the process of discernment, said Father Sylvain Casavant, vocations director for the Edmonton Archdiocese, and one of the retreat organizers.
"We come to know ourselves through each other. The biggest question I get asked is 'How do you know if you're being called?' and the answer is you know by events and by the people around you."
One reason there are so few people entering religious life is because there is no "atmosphere of vocations," Casavant says.
"We need to get back to the recognition that God calls through people. How often do we say 'There's someone who's good with kids - they would make a good teacher.' Or someone who is good with their hands - 'They would make a good mechanic.' We don't do that for vocations, because we haven't been asked to do it."
Both Adamyk and Holinka feel a similar retreat would be helpful to all laypeople, not only those contemplating a religious vocation.
"Everyone is called to fulfill some sort of service or ministry" Holinka says, such as teaching catechism or preparing children for First Communion.
"This would give them a better understanding of what they are called to do."
Adamyk agrees: "Everybody should look at a way of bringing God more closely into their lives."