CJ Hosts Lunch and Learn for Students and Vowed Religious Alike

It can be intimidating for a young person to imagine themselves as a member of a religious order if they are not given the opportunity to meet individuals who have taken up a religious life.

To create a comfortable place for conversation, CJs ministry & service department hosted a lunch mixer at CJ on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception for students and members of the Marianist and Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur religious orders. 

“We want to expose our students to what religious life is,” said Sr. Nicole Trahan, FMI, campus minister. “It’s good to give them a chance to ask questions and get to know religious men and women in an informal, laidback situation.”

As CJ is sponsored by both the Marianists and the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, it was a natural fit to welcome members of these orders to campus to interact with students, some of which may be considering a religious life. 

“I think the goal for the luncheon is for students to interact with other vowed religious because it’s another way for the students to understand the charisms and traditions that form the foundation of CJ,” said Fr. Bob Jones, SM, school chaplain. “On the other hand, it helps the religious get an idea of all the great things that happen at CJ. And, my guess is, the students who attended are now being prayed for by the religious who met them.”

While the students were granted a great opportunity to learn from members of the Marianists and Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, the religious also got the joy of interacting with students of deep faith and passion for a Catholic education. 

“It offers the religious an opportunity to meet some of our students and even be inspired by them and see the good things going on here at CJ,” said Kelli Kinnear, director of ministry & service. 

Students said they enjoyed their conversations with the priests, brothers, and sisters, some of which learned they are connected through more than just faith. 

“My favorite part of the lunch was hearing vocation stories from the sisters, brothers, and priests,” said Maddie Jasko ‘23. “One conversation that stuck out to me was one that I had with one of the brothers. He actually taught some of my family members and knew my family pretty well. 

“The conversations were relaxing and a great breather from all my schoolwork. I really enjoyed having lunch with the religious and would definitely want to see them again!”

Ultimately, one of the main hopes of luncheons like these is to help students understand that there are resources and a supportive community of vowed men and women that are available to them if they would like to further explore the path to religious life.

“With numbers of religious declining through the years, our students don’t have the opportunity to meet many religious, aside from those already in our building,” said Kinnear. “We hope that our students can see that priests, brothers, and sisters are ‘real people’ who live joyful and fulfilling lives. Perhaps events like these can plant a seed, and some of them might consider a religious life in their future.”

--This story was published on December 14, 2021.