2017 Vocations essay contest winners

Originally Appeared in : 9726-12/21/17

Question posed to 7th grade students throughout the Diocese of Savannah:  “What is your favorite memory of a priest or religious and how could that memory make you consider a vocation?”


Catholic School Winning Entries


Ava Kurtz, First Place $250
St. Anne-Pacelli School, Columbus

My favorite memory of a priest would be Father Martin's homily about Jesus' transfiguration on Mount Tabor. This is when Jesus brought the three apostles Peter, James, and John to Mount Tabor. While climbing to the top, the three apostles hear God's voice and Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus and are having a conversation. Jesus is also glowing in his divinity. This was the first time the apostles saw Jesus as his true self- God. Father Martin compared this story to how we should live our lives. He said we need to transfigure or change. We should be kind to our neighbors, be closer to God, and just live our lives in faith. He also said if you had an orange you just don't want to take a bite of the bitter skin. Instead you want to peel and "transfigure" the orange into its juicy goodness. Father Martin also made the congregation sing a song and told us to sparkle in life with jazz hands. He made his homily fun and enjoyable for all ages. I also could understand it right away unlike most homilies where I have to think really hard.

Father Martin inspired me to be a nun because I love teaching but also want to have fun while doing it. He was very smiley and looked like he loved his job. I really want a job where I can teach and love my job. I also want to change people's lives. I recently volunteered at a charity where I had to work at a children's craft table. I loved it. If I become a nun, I can help people and teach children about faith. I also think that I would love the vocation of being a nun! Even though I am only 12, I have already been so blessed. I want to share my blessings with other people and help make their lives better. In the words of Father Martin, I want to help them transfugure their lives.


Kathryn Lanham, Second Place $125
St. Mary on the Hill School, Augusta

When I was told the essay question was, "What is your favorite memory of a priest or religious and how could that memory make you consider a vocation," the first memory that came to my mind was of last summer when I went to the diocese's vocation camp and got to talk to a nun over an amazing dinner.

It was dinner on the second day of camp. We had come back from the cabin still wet from a game and ready for Mass. After Mass, we went to the mess hall. When we had said our prayers we sat down to eat. We had spaghetti and banana pudding at our table in the corner of the mess hall. One of the sisters came over and sat down with us. We had a great time talking about the camp, earth ball, what it was like being a sister, and the play we were going to do the next day at the end of camp.

As I think about that conversation I realized my idea about sisters was wrong. I would never think that I could be a sister, but when I talked to this sister my mind opened up. I realized that a sister was no different than me. They like the same things other people do and many of the sisters grew up just like me. I think if I had never talked with this sister I would never had thought about becoming a sister. Even though it would mean giving up my dream job of being an astronomer, I would definitely become a sister if that is what God has planned for my life. I learn that sisters have fun and enjoy what they do serving God. And if God told me to be a sister I would be happy that God was calling me to such an amazing vocation.

In conclusion, this memory of that one dinner me and my cabin mates had with the sister has changed my opinion and opened my mind to a new understanding about sisters. I realized that sisters are just like me and that while serving God they still have fun. This has made me realize that if God was calling me to be a sister I would fully accept. Even if it meant giving up my plans for my life. This is how this one memory of a religious could make me consider a vocation as a sister.


Grady Walker, Third Place $75 
St. Mary on the Hill School, Augusta

Usually when I think of a priest, I think of them being very serious and everything they do can only be related to the Church and couldn’t do things that other people do. My opinion changed with a few religious members when they showed me that not everything had to be religious. I’ve seen priests do many other things like play basketball, skateboard, and even hockey. All of those things show me that it would actually be fun to be a priest. Although, there are two specific memories that really made me think about considering a vocation. 

One of the specific memories is when I went to Most Holy Trinity, a few years ago. It was when everyone was exiting the Church and shaking Father Szuster’s hand. My family knows him well and we joke around sometimes. But that day, he had a hand buzzer on so when I shook his hand it vibrated and scared me. That made me realize that being a priest didn’t have to be so serious, and there was humor. There was one other memory that made me think about considering a vocation. It was when Seminarian Peter Lanshima came to the school and played soccer with us at recess. I thought that was really cool because I saw that someone who was studying to be a priest was playing sports and having fun. But after that, he talked to us about Purgatory. So it was about a religious subject, but also just for fun. 

With these memories I know that it would be great to be a priest because you can do normal fun things, but also what you want to do. That’s not the best part though. The best part is when you do those things like Peter and Father Szuster, you have a chance to make people happy. You also have a chance to tell about God. That is why I think being a priest or a religious would be an awesome thing to do.


Faith Formation Program Winning Entries 


Matthew McKinley , First Place $250
St. Anne, Richmond Hill

I am 12 years old, and I am in 7th grade. My family have been members of St. Anne Catholic Church for 19 years. I go to church regularly on Sundays, and I go to RED on Wednesday. I just started going to RED this year, and I attended a private Catholic school from Pre-K - 5th grade. When I was in the 4th grade Father Gabriel Cummings became the new parish priest replacing Monsignor Francis Nelson. Each day when my parents dropped me off at school, Father Gabe was always there to help me get out of the car and was welcoming. By doing this, I learned to accept Father Gabe as the new pastor for the church and school. The school always went to church on Fridays, and so Father Gabe would always be standing in front of those two, big, wooden doors shaking everyone's hand.

When school was over, I always went to the Extended Day Program (EDP), and sometimes Father Gabe would come to play cards with us or board games. Whenever Father Gabe came and played games with us it brought everyone joy. He even asked the youngest students if he could be on their team. This showed me that Father Gabe was considerate. I even felt a calling to the priesthood when he was around. He made it seem like priests aren't always serious and stern. He made it seem like he always had fun. In church whenever I saw him up on the altar preaching, I thought he was the holiest person there, actually sent by God Himself. Even though he was fun, he always helped students if something was wrong. Father Gabe even helped me when I was being bullied. I told him the bully was picking on me everyday calling me names and stuff like that, and Father Gabe called the bully's teacher and said that they needed to see him in the principal's office and he had a talk with him. After that "talk' between the bully and Father Gabe, I was no longer bullied by him again. This incident made me realize that there is always someone who can help.

If I were to grow up and become a surgeon, and also be a priest, I would say that I was saving lives every day. I would preach at my church about how God gave me a gift so I could save lives. I would preach that maybe God gave me this gift for a reason. Maybe I had a destiny. I would thank God for everything that He's done to lead me up to this point in my life. In doing this I would be serving God by saving his creation.

Father Gabe made me feel at home at my school. He also led me on the right path to doing good. Father Gabe would be the reason why I would become a priest and do good in my life. He was the one that taught me to always help others to make my bond with people and with God stronger.


William Schmidt, 2nd Place $125 
St. Anne, Richmond Hill

My favorite religious memory was when Father Allen changed the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus. This really mesmerized me when I was at that altar, taking the role of an altar server. From that day on, I felt the presence of Jesus Christ, and decided that I wanted to become a priest. Now, every time I am at the altar, I feel the same presence. I remember when Father first gave me a homily on vocations. That was the first time I ever heard that word. Soon after, I went to vocations camp to be more connected to God, and other boys who felt the same way. When I was there I remember when there was this one person who came from Jamaica and left his family. That was when

I felt just how powerful the soul’s connection to Jesus Christ was. He gave up his family and pursued his dreams.

I could be a priest in this church and be ordained. I would do confessions, help people with everyday problems, and do adoration. I feel a special connection to Jesus Christ every time I go to Mass and pray during Mass and before. 
In conclusion, my experience with Father Allen every Mass has changed my life forever and I will cherish the memory from now, all the way for when I become an adult, and towards senior life. 


Gavin Rokosz Third Place $75
St. Anne, Richmond Hill

I am in the seventh grade and go to Godley Station. I love band and learning about the world. I have been going to my current church since the third grade. Some of my first experiences with the Church were when I first started going to Mass and Sunday school. Before that obviously was my baptism. And my family and I have been Catholics for generations. My specific relationship with any of the religious have been with this Church’s previous priest and our current, Father.

I will be describing my experiences around Father Joe (our previous priest), and the first time I ever saw him turn bread and wine into the body and blood. This had an impact on me as a child and always made me wonder how I can spread the word of God. And to let others have the same experiences I did. So many people don’t have the joy and love of being of Christian faith. Of receiving communion for the first time. And of the beautiful organs during a church Mass.

This affected my life in many ways. And influenced me to consider becoming perhaps a deacon or chaplain in the military. It can be a tough decision, A deacon can still have jobs like lawyers or doctors. But they still help priests in Mass and spread the word of God. Whilst a chaplain in the military rarely ever is forced to fight in any actual wars. They give the men in the military the strength they need to be the best men, women, soldiers, and servants of God they can be.

So overall my experiences with religious have been amazing. They have made consider spreading the word of God. Either by becoming either a deacon or a chaplain in the military. These jobs spread the word of God in their own way. Both with civilians and with soldiers. But both help people be the best Christians they can be. 

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