Students at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Academy in Windsor Terrace took a break from tests and pop quizzes to spend an afternoon talking about their vocations in life with Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio.
“We talked about it a lot in church, but I never really paid attention to it because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do for my vocation,” said student Chay Greene, “but it’s like a little clearer now for me. It was a good talk. I learned a lot about the vocations and knowing what your call is.”
During the Nov. 8 visit, the diocesan Vocations Director, Father Sean Suckiel, accompanied the bishop, as students assembled in Holy Name parish’s Shepherd’s Hall. They listened to the two Church leaders who explained how they try to live their lives as witnesses to Jesus and in service to the Church.
“Bishop DiMarzio ordained me on June 23, 2012, one of the happiest days of my life and you know what, my life was just beginning,” said Father Suckiel.
“I love everything about being a priest, celebrating Mass. The coolness of saying those words, ‘This is my Body and this is my Blood’ and raising the Eucharist and seeing the Body of Christ, the Divinity and also my own humanity. Like ‘Wow, this is Christ himself, this is Christ working through me.’ This is so cool that Christ is using someone weak like me to do something amazing.”
The bishop has declared a special Year of Vocations in the Brooklyn Diocese. It began Aug. 4, the feast of St. John Vianney, patron of priests. In the four-month span since its opening, the commitment to reawaken the call of the young Church has been on the forefront of the unified effort.
For the rows of students sitting in the Brooklyn hall, it meant taking a cue from St. Paul’s Scriptural call-to-action and questioning everything, including their diocesan bishop.
Hands raised during the question-and-answer portion where inquisitive minds asked Bishop DiMarzio about his decision to become a priest.
Greene was surprised to find out that the bishop considered becoming a doctor before becoming a priest.
“Being a young man like me, you never really know what’s going to happen in the future because the future is a long journey,” said the eighth grader, who is considering attending Xaverian H.S. next year.
“If you don’t understand your calling or vocation, just think about what you want to do in life and just work towards it and when you grow older, make sure you achieve that goal.”
When the time allotted to interview the bishop ran out, the Office of Vocations digital resource had resonated with some of the students.
“There’s this website – whatsmycalling.org,” said seventh grader Genna Cottingham. “It can pull up all three of the vocations. Learn more about them.”
For the Catholic academy’s first-year principal Kathleen Schneck, having her students talk about faith with the bishop and priests was an opportunity she didn’t want her students to miss.
“It’s really great that we’re lucky to have priests in Brooklyn who are involved in schools,” said Schneck, who took the position back in September. “Their commitment to their faith and spreading it to our students is really amazing.”
On the day Bishop DiMarzio visited St. Joseph the Worker, auxiliary bishops of the diocese were also speaking with students in other parts of Brooklyn and Queens about vocations.