As a part of National Vocation Awareness Week, senior members of FLIGHT (Faith Leaders in God's Hands Today) heard from a panel of four CJ faculty and staff members and one guest speaker about their path in life and how they chose their vocation.
Educators Caitlin Bennett, Jama Badinghaus, Fr. Matt Robben, and Sr. Nicole Trahan, FMI, each shared their unique story on Nov. 4. Gabby Bibeau, a 2011 University of Dayton graduate, also spoke about her journey pursuing sisterhood with the Marianists.
Bennett, a drama teacher, and Badinghaus, student support coordinator at CJ, told how they were called to live the Marianist charism as laypersons. Meanwhile, Fr. Matt and Sr. Nicole each discussed their somehwhat indirect paths to religious life. All four related their stories in a personal way that allowed students to think about God's role in their own life’s calling.
“I really enjoyed hearing about the variety of ways people felt called to live like Christ in their lives,” said Julianne Evans ’15, a FLIGHT student.
Bennett and Badinghaus both come from a background of Marianist education. It was during their time at the University of Dayton that they both felt a powerful calling to serve as lay Marianists.
“I finally felt a sense of family with the Marianists, a sense of belonging,” Badinghaus said. “I can work here at CJ as a lay person, but I have connections all over the world.”
Fr. Matt’s vocation story is quite different and began when he was a young child. He always knew he wanted to be a priest, but God had unexpected plans in his life. It was not until 2012, after working for a number of years as a restaurant manager, that Fr. Matt became ordained. After attending Mass with a friend and fully opening his heart to the Catholic Church again, he further committed his life to God by becoming a priest.
Sr. Nicole’s vocation came to her unexpectedly after she earned a degree in biomedical science from Texas A&M University. She grew up Catholic, but never thought about becoming a sister.
“My passions came from ministering and teaching,” said Sr. Nicole, who eventually professed her first vows in June 2008 and her perpetual vows in August 2013. “The Marianist charism was something that I was living, but I didn’t have a name for it.”
By hearing their teachers' stories, students not only learned about what different vocations entail, but also what it means to really listen to God’s call.
“The most beneficial thing I learned is that part of God's plan for us is to wait for the call He has for us, even when we think we are sure about our life," Julianne said. "Most people want to have some plans for the future, but clearly God has the best plans and they tend to be unexpected.
“Though waiting for God can be a challenge, we also have to remember He is waiting for us to realize our vocation. Everyone who talked about vocation was called to their vocation after waiting and really listening to God's call," the senior said.
To learn more about National Vocation Awareness Week (Nov. 2-8), go to www.usccb.org.