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SPRING 2019 GRANT RECIPIENTS ANNOUNCED
A registered nurse. A young man whose childhood love for Jesus Christ got temporarily lost to homesickness and adolescent angst. A former Baptist whose conversion was inspired by a Catholic boyfriend who himself is now in priestly formation. A young woman who took her fears to Eucharistic adoration and found peace—and a vocation. A recent college graduate who gradually realized that the emptiness she felt could only be filled by God. A Russian art and literature scholar who discovered his love for Jesus Christ in Siberia—literally. A 23-year-old who decided to answer the call she first heard as an eighth-grader despite fierce opposition from her family.
How gloriously different are the vocation stories we are privileged to read here at the Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations! As you may know, the selection committee convenes each spring to review applications and make decisions. At our March 23 2019 meeting, we were able to award seven new grants thanks to your generosity! The grant recipients are:
- Kathryn (Washington, DC): St. Joseph Monastery, Passionist Nuns
- Sarah (Westminster, MD): Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará
- Tyler (Omaha, NE): Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest
- Elizabeth (Avilla, IN): Monastery of Our Lady of Guadelupe, Discalced Carmelite Nuns
- Bridgette (Laytonsville, MD): Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia
- Clare (Dallas, TX): Holy Theophany Monastery
- Oscar (Jerome, ID): Missionaries of the Holy Spirit
Their reactions have been overwhelming joy and gratitude. Oscar wrote us immediately.
To the donors of the Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations: May God’s love be upon you! Without you, we wouldn’t be able to give ourselves to God and the Church. I have such a strong desire to help people and accompany them on their journeys to Christ, and your gift has made it possible. Rest assured that what you have given will return to you ten-fold in prayers, graces, and love. We are each called to help build God’s kingdom where Love reigns. Thank you for believing in us and faithfully donating to the Fund for Vocations with such loving hearts!_
Like so many young Catholics, Oscar had a simple love for Jesus Christ as a child. Even though he thought Mass was “boring,” he and his family prayed together and talked about Our Lord. They also felt they had an intercessor in Camila, the only daughter of the family, who died at birth but whose presence the family keenly felt.
When Oscar was 11, his Mexican-American family left California for Idaho, where the cost of living is much lower and life would be less stressful for his hard-working parents. Oscar describes a lacerating homesickness that transformed him from a happy kid who lived for his family into an unhappy, withdrawn loner. “I distanced myself so much that my relationship with my parents and brothers suffered tremendously,” Oscar writes. “It was my relationship with Jesus that kept me going. I could not distance myself from him if I had wanted to: he knew my every trial. Jesus was secretly preparing me in this cold little desert.”
After he entered university, Oscar made friends with people he met at the Catholic Student Center and sang in church choirs. Two chaplains in a row asked him when he planned to pursue the vocation they both believed he clearly had; Oscar laughed off those queries. Only after he had graduated and moved back home to look for work did the same question, this time from his beloved mother, have an impact. “I was going to daily Mass, staying for Adoration, and helping out around the parish with whatever was needed. My mom said, ‘You know, you really should think about being a priest: you spend all your time at church already anyway!’ And when my mom said it, it just hit me. For the first time, the idea of becoming a priest made me happy, and I told Jesus in prayer that if this was what He wanted, then I accept.”
Things happened quickly after that. Oscar contacted the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, was captivated by what he describes as their “radical following of Christ Priest and Victim,” applied, and was accepted. So strong was the fit that the community made an exception and allowed Oscar to enter the novitiate, with the understanding that he could not enter the community officially and profess vows unless his student debt could be discharged. Thanks to your generosity, that obstacle has been removed and Oscar can pursue his vocation!
“The greatest fruit I receive from God here has been an ever-growing confidence that He loves me as I am and intends on using my simple, weak humanity to help guide others to Him. As long as I walk the earth, I hope to keep my eyes on Christ and live my life radically, working passionately to make God’s dream come true.”
Whenever we lay faithful feel tempted to worry, to wonder whether God is still seeding the hearts of young Catholics with holy vocations, we need only read stories like Oscar’s. I hope that you are as inspired by them as Corey and I are. Thank you so much for being part of this work—for saying Yes to the Fund for Vocations so that young Catholics like Oscar can say Yes to God.
We are pleased to announce that the new application forms are now available for the next grant-making cycle. If you are a potential grant applicant, we encourage you to browse the resources available through the link below. We truly appreciate your willingness to respond to God’s call and are here to assist individuals like you commit to a life of service to the Church. The linked section includes all of the information necessary to determine if the St. Joseph Student Debt Grant Relief Program is for you. Prior to completing a grant application, we require that you review the information included in this section.
For individuals discerning a call to religious life, the rising cost of college tuition has created an obstacle to entering religious formation programs that many did not consider while pursuing their college degrees. The Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations assists men and women to follow God’s call to service in the Church through a life of consecration. The St. Joseph Student Debt Relief Program provides grants that cover each recipient’s student loan payments while they are in formation for religious life. By doing so, we are able to assist young men and women to respond to their vocation with one less obstacle on the path to service to the Church.