Vocations St. Ignatius Loyola Catholic Church A People For Others
Loving and Generous God, it is You who call us by name and ask us to follow You. Help us to grow in the Love and Service of our Church as we experience it today. Give us the energy and courage of Your Spirit to shape its future Grant us faith-filled leaders who will embrace Christâ€™s Mission of love and justice. Bless the Church of St. Ignatius by raising up dedicated and generous leaders from our families and friends who will serve Your people as Sisters, Priests, Brothers, Deacons and Lay Ministers. Inspire us to know You better and open our hearts to hear Your call.
Pray for St. Ignatius of Loyola
These men and women are St. Ignatius parishioners studying to be Priests, Deacons and Sisters. Please take time to get to
know them and pray for them.
ou are my hope, Lord; my trust, God, from my youth. On you I have depended since birth; from my mother’s womb you are my strength: my hope in you never wavers” (Ps 71:5-6). My name is Xavier Bilavendiran. I was born in India and my first language is Tamil. As the youngest of seven children, I grew up in a small village of 70 Catholic families in the south east of India, and studied at the public elementary school. One of my sisters is a religious sister in the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph. Two brothers and two sisters got married and one sister is deceased. My mother is a hard worker and very strong disciplinarian. She questioned me if I didn’t go to the church in the morning and evening. My father and mother taught me spirituality and how to pray at a young age. Later my mother encouraged me to lead the prayer and rosary at home. My teacher in the elementary school was a Hindu who influenced my early formation. He taught me not only geometry and science; he also taught me sincerity, truthfulness and faithfulness to prayer. He always received a report from the catechist about whether I went regularly to church. He told me the importance of prayer, where God favors His children. I feel now that he had great respect and reverence towards the Catholic Church. As a young boy I was inspired by my Aunt who is a religious sister in the Congregation of St. Anne. Whenever she came home on her vacation she would ask me what I would become in the future. I told her that I will become a priest. When I was young I memorized all the prayers and I pretended to celebrate mass with my friends. After high school I lost my desire to study for the priesthood. I wanted to study physics. I couldn’t decide what my career should be? I never realized that God had a plan for me, but I believed it after the Easter Vigil Mass when I was walking on my farm around three o’clock in the morning looking at the moon
light. It was so pleasant and peaceful. Even now I have no words to describe what I experienced at that moment. Finally I received the insight: why not study for the priesthood which I desired when I was young. With a strong conviction I chose the seminary formation to become a priest. I understand that the Lord has His own way to lead me. Even after many trials and difficulties I never lost my hope in the Lord. Only one thing I learned through my formation that is to be faithful to the Love which God shows me all the time and I am called to be a servant. Thank you Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
y vocation to the priesthood comes from the divine love acting in the marriage of Rick and M’Elaine Hebert, my parents. It was this love that gave life to my 10 siblings and I, and it was this love that entrusted our souls to this faithful couple. My faith began in my home, and it was both centered on and developed by regular attendance at Mass. It is often difficult to get 13 people to Mass on time, but that difficulty was never reason enough for my parents to skip a Sunday. Thanks to the dedication and sacrificial love of my parents, I learned the importance of being present at the Eucharist. As I grew older, the religious education and sacramental preparation programs at St. Ignatius Loyola supplemented the faith formation taking place in my home. As I reflect on this time, I can see that the seed of my vocation was nurtured and preserved by witnessing the service of faithful parishioners like Kathy Schaefer, Steve Dalhoff, Deacon Scott Glueck, and many others. While attending Texas A&M University, my spiritual life began to deepen substantially. St. Mary’s Catholic Student Center (the campus ministry parish) offered a myriad of ways to be involved in the faith community, and (to my astonishment) the community overflowed with young people wanting to attend Mass...DAILY! The fact that, in a day, I could wake up, skip class (sorry Dad), chat with a Franciscan (Fr. Curt Lanzrath), attend a bible study, study some engineering, and walk to church with my friends while attending a public university astonished me. It also drew me closer to the Son of God and His Holy Church. As I grew in faith, my vocation grew in my heart. I began to discuss the priesthood with my pastor, Fr. David Konderla, but after visiting Holy Trinity Seminary, I decided to pursue a vocation to the married life. I graduated, moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, and began to make a life for myself. As time went on, “making a life for myself” began interfering with my relationship with God. In other words, I no longer considered God’s will for my life, and I only considered
what I wanted my life to be. Eventually, a desire to help those people suffering illness led me to enter medical school, but the diverse trials encountered in my first semester compelled me to reexamine the sort of person I was making myself to be. With God’s grace and while kneeling in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I concluded that I must seek out who it was that God had created me to be. God answered quickly. Like every one of us, God had created me to be a saint. So I decided to let Christ make me into one. First, I resolved to make a regular confession and to devote time to daily prayer and reflection. Then I sought holiness in the classroom by studying hard, praying for my classmates and professors, and working on my communication skills. Then, because I had little to no income to share with my parish (Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock), I gave what was left of my free time to its religious education program. It was not long before my vocation began to speak loudly within me. This took place most often when my bishop, Anthony Taylor, was present at the Cathedral’s Mass. Soon, I found myself day-dreaming about the priesthood when I should have been studying medicine! Eventually, I began speaking with my diocesan Vocation Director, Msgr. Scott Friend, who swiftly helped me discern God’s will. I was afraid to give up the direction my life was heading, and did not understand what was going on in my heart. Msgr. Friend showed me that when God speaks within our hearts, He accompanies it with His peace. Fear comes from outside us, and it is not from God. I wanted to heal the sick as a physician, and I was afraid to give that up. I wanted to be a husband and father, and I was afraid to give up that up as well. Then, while praying in the empty Cathedral church, God spoke within my heart about what He wants for me. He wants me to sacrifice my love of medicine so that I can heal souls as a priest. Within the whisper came His peace. He wants me to sacrifice my love for a wife and family so that I can be a spiritual father through the Eucharist. With those words came His peace. With His peace I finally discovered the courage to follow Christ in the service of His priesthood. Be assured of my prayers for the community at St. Ignatius Loyola, and please continue to pray for my vocation!
y vocational calling first really showed itself after my Confirmation retreat with the St. Ignatius Youth Ministry program during my junior year of high school. I was a lax Catholic up until that point in my life. But, after going on that retreat and really getting to know God, I started getting involved with Youth events. This helped me to understand what I had encountered on my retreat. The following summer, I went to a Steubenville South conference in Alexandria, Louisiana. This event was life changing. And it was during this conference and all throughout the summer that the idea of becoming a priest entered my thoughts. I talked to many people that summer, including Brian Lennox, Michael Marcon, and Fr. Norbert to try and understand what I should do and how I go about discerning this call. After some meetings, Fr. Norbert sent me to talk to Fr. Dat. I met with him, and discussed what I should do. The main thing was to finish high school and plan for college as if I was not going to go into seminary, while continuing to pray over what God wanted me to do. Slowly, but surely as school continued into my senior year, I started to worry about college and what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I thought mostly about being a doctor. I had wanted to study medicine and help people from a very young age. The idea of entering seminary was still there, but I had prioritized myself to enter into a pre-med program in college. High school eventually came to a close, and I did not enter seminary right out of high school. It was decided between Fr. Dat and myself that I would enter college for a year and continue my discernment. So, throughout my freshman year in college, I continued to pray, continued to discern what it was God wanted me to do, continued to live my faith as best I could. I continued to meet with Fr. Dat throughout my freshman year as well so he could track my progress and discernment with me. While still talking with
people, from friends to priests, like Fr. Mike Buentello CSB, the chaplain of St. Thomas University in Houston, I continued the process of discernment and ended up going to the Menâ€™s Discernment Retreat that the vocations office holds every year in January. After the retreat, I had a follow up meeting with Fr. Dat, and we began the application process. After the application process was all said and done, I waited to hear from the Archdiocese on if they would accept me as a seminarian or not. After waiting a few months to hear form them, I got my response. And here I am now, studying for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. And I could not be happier.
t. Ignatius was a big part of my life from 2003 to 2006. I moved to Houston with Hewlett Packard in July of 2003. A coworker told me about St. Mary’s Seminary. That summer was the beginning of many big things. I enrolled at St. Mary’s and started in the RCIA program at St. Ignatius. St. Ignatius holds for me many fond memories of learning, spirituality, and fellowship. I was not able to visit Houston this last summer, unfortunately. I hope that I will be able to make regular visits to Houston in the years to come. I especially miss the restaurants, and the Half-Price Book stores. I am nearing the end of my second year at Holy Apostles Seminary in Connecticut. Many of the seminarians shared with me that the first semester is the hardest. I can now affirm that statement. It seems my formation started the first day, and included every corner of my life during the autumn months. I have renewed strength for my studies, and my perspective as a seminarian has certainly matured since those early weeks of my first year. This last summer, I had the privilege of spending eight weeks in Guatemala for my Introduction to Spanish. I am ‘more calm’ when I know I will be able to practice Spanish for the rest of my life. During my early years, I was never an altar server, so my serving is not second nature. This Christmas Break, I was able to serve at quite a few Masses, so it was a good break. My most recent joy has been in doing Hospital Chaplaincy work. I hope it will become a cornerstone of my priesthood. I also just returned from being in the March for Life in Washington DC. Blessings to all at St. Ignatius Loyola on this feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas!.
Sr. Kathy Hawkins, OSC
y life has been filled with many “interesting moments” along the journey. I was born and raised in New York, but moved to Houston, Texas in l989. I became a member of St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish serving as Eucharistic Minister and assisting on Sunday mornings in the CCD program for four year olds. After many years of working as an Office Manager for a psychiatrist, I felt the Lord calling me into a deeper relationship with Him. The Lord never ceases to amaze me with His sense of humor along with His persistence and patience in waiting for the “moment” when He will wait no longer. He made His invitation to me very personal and concrete, so that I would have no doubts that it was truly Him leading me out into the desert to speak to my heart. I guess I always knew at an early age that God was calling me to religious life. I found of course many excuses to keep “putting Him off”. But there comes a time when He will wait no longer. I came to discover through prayer, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and an eight day retreat, that the Lord had placed a desire in my heart to love and follow Him a long time ago. So I continued to pray and asked God for the grace and generosity of heart to respond to His invitation. Being a faithful God and a good listener, He answered my prayer. In June, 2009, I moved from Houston to Omaha, Nebraska and joined the Intercessors of the Lamb, a Community of Priests, Brothers, Sisters and Lay Companions. In 2010, for various reasons, Archbishop Lucas, found it necessary to suppress the Community. I was once again waiting for the Lord to show me the way. Being a faithful God, using many different people to help in my discernment process, He led me to the Franciscan Community of the Poor Sisters of St. Clare in Omaha, Nebraska. After a time of “come and see” I was accepted by the Community and began my journey with them in June, 2011. This past December 8th, I began my second year of novitiate as a Poor Sister of St. Clare. We never know where the journey will lead us, but if we follow Him in faith
and trust, the Lord will provide as He continues to do. I ask for your prayers as I continue the journey and develop a deeper and more profound appreciation of the Franciscan charism and the Gospel Way of St. Clare during this coming year. You can learn more about us at our website www.omahapoorclare.org.
ooking back over my youth, there are obviously many experiences in which I can see God leading me to a religious vocation. However, two of the most significant for me would be my time with Boy Scout Troop 1324, sponsored by the St. Ignatius Knights of Columbus, and the sacramental preparation classes that I took in 2004 and 2005 before receiving Confirmation. Being active with Boy Scouts during the years of my youth convinced me that in order for my life to count for something it had to be given in service to others. Numerous service projects, like those with Sending Out Servants which sends medical supplies to South America, taught me the true joy of selfless servince. It was as a Boy Scout that I first experienced God’s call to love Him through serving my neighbor. However, it was during my Confirmation preparation that I truly fell in love with the Catholic Church. The lessons revealed to me the beauty and the depth of our Catholic faith. At that point, I was hooked and I had to learn more. I began by reading books and pariticpating in a bible study. This zeal for the Catholic faith continued during my college years at Texas A&M, where I was active at the University’s Catholic Student Center (St. Mary’s). Participation in the liturgy and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, as well as several retreat ministries, led me more deeply to the heart of the Church. Shortly before graduation from college, I began to look and think more closely about how God was calling me to a life of service. I had always just assumed that I would get married and have a family, without ever giving a second thought to how God might be calling me. But in analyzing these somewhat “existential” questions, I felt God’s gentle nudge towards the priesthood. After several months of prayer and discernment, I found myself drawn to the Order of Preachers, more commonly known as the Dominicans. The Dominican charism of preaching and teaching deeply resonated with my desire to know
and share all that I had learned about the Catholic Faith. I was also attracted by the beauty of the lives of the Dominican Saints – St. Dominic, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Martin de Porres, St. Catherine of Seina and many others. The various ways in which the Dominican Saints witnessed to the Gospel of Christ, with the special focus of the salvation of souls, was another big draw for me. But ultimately, I made the choice to follow God’s call when I realized that a vocation to religious life or the priesthood is not a “sacred call for sacred men,” but rather a sacred call for ordinary men. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that grace builds upon nature, and so it is with any vocation whether it is religious life, priesthood, marriage or a single vocation. The vocation which God calls us to will build upon who we already are. God’s call will fulfill our longing. Union with God, rather than changing who we are, will only make us more and more of our authentic selves. Over these past couple of years with the Dominicans, I am incredibly thankful for the support of Fr. Norbert and the parishioners at St. Ignatius’ Catholic Church, especially the Knights of Columbus. Your many and frequent prayers are very much appreciated and very much needed! Please continue to pray for me, as well as all seminarians and religious in formation. Also, don’t be afraid to encourage the parish’s many active young people to discern a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.
Peter E. Olivier, Jr.
nspired by the infinite wisdom of the Prophet Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you”, Rita and I firmly believe that our Heavenly Father destined us to be part of the Diaconate Formation Program for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Looking back at fond memories of my humble childhood, I remember anxiously waiting until I was old enough to serve as an Altar Server at our beloved Saint Nicholas Catholic Church in Lydia, LA. During my early service to our Heavenly Father, I vividly recall hearing on several occasions Deacon Leonard Freyou telling my parents that I would make a good Deacon. Deacon Freyou was a highly respected member of our community and very instrumental in my life of service to our Heavenly Father which began as an Altar Server and slowly evolved into an Usher, Lector and Eucharistic Minister. My siblings and I were blessed by Deacon Freyou being present or assisting at our Holy Sacraments of Baptism, Penance, Eucharist, Confirmation and Marriage in our small rural Catholic community. I will forever cherish his inspirational words of wisdom and encouragement for me to seek a higher calling. The first serious thought of becoming a Deacon surfaced in the late 90’s in New Orleans, LA but God in his infinite wisdom let me know by virtue of my job relocation to Houston, TX that he was not ready for me to enter the Diaconate Formation yet. After several years of service at Saint Ignatius Loyola as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, Worship Coordinator, Instituted Acolyte and participation on various leadership commissions, God began speaking to Rita and I about the Diaconate through family members, parishioners and various members of the clergy. In their unique way, each one of them was telling Rita and I that God wanted us to serve a higher calling. After quiet periods of prayer and discernment, we humbly answered God’s call and attended a Diaconate Formation Information Session in 2009 at Saint Mary’s
Seminary which eventually led to Cardinal DiNardo graciously accepting me as a Candidate for the Diaconate. Our Diaconate Formation has been a journey filled with immense levels of wisdom and knowledge graced to us by our Heavenly Father. The humbling opportunity to be selected as part of a formation program consisting of thirty other gentlemen and their wives from various churches throughout the diocese has enriched our lives in immeasurable ways. Rita and I offer our heartfelt appreciation to Father Norbert Maduzia for helping us throughout our discernment process to answer God’s call to the service of the Diaconate. With God’s graces and the ongoing prayers and support of the Saint Ignatius Loyola Catholic Community, we are looking forward to continuing our walk with Christ on our Diaconate Formation journey.
y name is Albert Padilla. My family and I have been parishioners of St. Ignatius Catholic Community for seven years. In those seven years, my wife (Josephine) of 25 years and our children, have served in many ministries. In my journey of faith I have often found myself in one ministry or another. When I look back, I find I’m often asked why I chose a particular ministry. I usually can confidently answer with an “I’m not sure”. I’ve often been asked to join particular ministries and while they were amazing ministries, of which I eventually did serve, I found myself often refusing to serve in them at first. Now one may ask why I refused. The answer is quite simple…it wasn’t the right time. For this reason, I’ve found that discernment is always important—to take time to listen to the Holy Spirit. For me serving in a ministry was something I felt drawn into so that I may serve the people of God. In that service, I found that I was a part of the body of Christ and a community of believers concerned with the salvation of others. I’ve always admired the sacrifices that our ordained clergy and those that are consecrated have made to take on that work of service to others. Two and half years ago I began to inquire about the Diaconate. It attracted me because of its servant-ministry type of focus. Deacon Larry Vines was instrumental in guiding me toward the information night. I recall it so vividly. After meeting with the Director of the Diaconate and several speakers, one would think they were trying to scare you away from the discernment process. There were many sacrifices to be made if one is to follow the path of the Diaconate. I recalled Jesus’ answer in Mark 10:21 to the rich man seeking eternal life, “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven, then come follow me.” In 2012, after much discernment (from both the Church and I), challenging academic courses, and exams, I along with another parishioner were selected
and approved by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo to enter into the aspirant year of the discernment formation. I chose to select the Master’s Program offered St. Mary’s Seminary through the University of St. Thomas. Discernment of course still continues. Much can happen over the next several years. In either case I try and not worry about it and let it be the will of the Father. So far I’ve met a great group of fraternal brothers who are on the same journey as I am.
Henry F. Vinklarek
y discernment to the diaconate started soon after my marriage to my wife, Alicia. Prior to our marriage, I had always thought about being a priest, even all the way back to my junior high days in school, but due to family health issues, I felt that my time had come and gone. Alicia had even asked, prior to our marriage, whether I was still interested pursuing the priesthood, but I told her no; I wanted to marry her and continue participating, as she was, in serving where we were needed in the ministries at Church. Well, I guess the Lord had different plans for me. While kneeling and praying before Mass one Sunday, I felt God speaking to my heart. Expressing in words how this experience felt is not easy, but I truly left the experience feeling humbled and gratified. I told my wife of the experience after Mass and totally stunned her when I asked her how she would feel about me considering a life in the diaconate. We went home both discussing how our lives would change, the commitment required and decided to pray and see where the Spirit would take us. A few months later, as before, I again felt the same warmth, love and calling at my heart at Sunday Mass, but this time the sensation and overall feeling of warmth in my heart and mind further strengthened my resolve to commit to becoming a deacon. I communicated my experience to Alicia but we decided to continue praying, listening and discerning God’s call. After the experience, I began to spend time in prayer in the silence of the Reservation Chapel, asking what God what he wanted for me to do and discerning his call. After the third experience at Mass on Sunday, I decided that I could no longer continue holding back. With courage and in faith, I needed to respond to God’s call and start putting community above myself and accept his call. In my meeting with Father Norbert, I shared with Father my past feelings toward considering the priesthood, the calling to take care of my parents and
family and the callings that I was experiencing in my heart during the past few months. I want to thank Father Norbert for consenting to my decision to accept God’s call and continuing my journey. After completing formation to Christian ministry classes and prerequisite classes at St. Mary’s seminary, I received an acceptance letter from Cardinal DiNardo and the Diaconate Admissions Committee to be part of the next class for diaconate formation at the University of St. Thomas School of Theology. Looking back on my life’s journey, I am still in awe of the love that Jesus Christ has had for me and for the opportunity he has granted me. I am totally committed in returning the love that I feel in my heart to the people of God with joy and love.
Pray for St. Ignatius of Loyola
Vocations O God, Father of all Mercies, Provider of a bountiful Harvest, send Your Graces upon those You have called to gather the fruits of Your labor; preserve and strengthen them in their lifelong service of you. Open the hearts of Your children that they may discern Your Holy Will; inspire in them a love and desire to surrender themselves to serving others in the name of Your son, Jesus Christ. Teach all Your faithful to follow their respective paths in life guided by Your Divine Word and Truth. Through the intercession of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, all the Angels, and Saints, humbly hear our prayers and grant Your Churchâ€™s needs, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
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