Open Invitation

Sept. 2-8, 2004
Open Invitation
By Kristen Fox / SUN  Staff Writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Young People Attend Annual Barbecue with Bishops

LAFAYETTE –– The rain held off long enough for Bishop James Moynihan’s annual picnic on Aug. 19. Around 90 teenagers gathered at St. Joseph’s Church for the outdoor picnic, sponsored by the Office of Vocation Promotion.

Bishop Thomas Costello also attended the event, which included a prayer service, dinner catered by Dinosaur Barbecue and comments from Bishop Moynihan. The evening was an opportunity for the teens to get together with their peers, to talk to those in religious life and to discern their own callings.

“The event encourages the teens’ discernment of their vocations,” said Father John Donovan of the Office of Vocation Promotion. Father Donovan sent out approximately 600 invitations to teenagers across the diocese. “We wanted to try to reach out to as many students as possible,” he said.

Most of the students at the picnic had strong ties to their faith. Some of the teens participated in National Catholic Youth Convention last November in Houston and the Christian Leadership Institute in June. Others, like Lauren Kras, 17, are active in parish life. Kras, from St. Patrick’s Church in Otisco/St. Leo’s Church in Tully, taught a kindergarten religious education class. She also goes on retreats with her parish. Most recently she attended Steubenville East 2004, where she joined more than 5,000 Catholic teenagers at La Salette Shrine in Attleboro, Mass. in July to express their love for Christ and share with others.

Kras was confirmed last October; later this month she will be a freshman at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa. Like many in-coming college freshmen, Kras said that she has been busy preparing for her transition to college. “There is so much to do,” she said. But she explained that it was important to her that she break away from her hectic schedule to attend the picnic. “Bishop Moynihan invited me when I made my confirmation and I really wanted to come,” she said. “Even though I am going off to school I want to make sure my faith stays important. Here, I can meet teenagers who are also strong in their faith.” On hand to help make the event a success were eight out of the nine seminarians from the Diocese of Syracuse, including Deacon Joseph O’Connor, Deacon Thienan Tran, Michael Galuppi, Greg Kreinheder, Lukasz Kozlowski, Chris Celentano, John Kirby and Chris Ballard. Deacon Kevin Maloney was unable to attend.

Throughout the evening, the seminarians could be found mingling and chatting with the teenagers. Following dinner, Galuppi shared with the group what it was like for him discerning a vocation in the priesthood. “I remember asking priests all about their lives to get as much knowledge as I could to see if this is for me,” Galuppi said. He also visited St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Md. “I wanted to see if I could live in a house like this for four years,” he said.

According to Galuppi, who will be spending his pastoral year at St. John the Baptist Church in Rome, discernment takes “a lot of prayer and a lot of questions.” “You have to pray to actively seek God’s will,” he said. “I am fortunate that I have had so much confirmation from the Holy Spirit that I am in the right place.” Jordon Cerio, 16, from St. Agatha’s Church in Canastota, enjoyed hearing Deacon Galuppi’s thoughts on religious life. “He [Galuppi] is young,” Cerio said. “He gives us a different perspective on entering religious life.” While Jordon said that he has no plans to enter the priesthood, Dan Horan, a parishioner of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Utica, is contemplating religious life. “I am thinking of becoming a priest,” said Horan, who is a religious studies major at St. Bonaventure University. He said that he has received much support from diocesan priests, especially those from his home parish, while trying to discern his vocation. “It is a big decision and they have been helpful,” he said. Horan agrees with Kras that the picnic is a unique opportunity to get together with similar people who are devoted to their faith. That is why he has come out for the picnic two years in a row –– this year bringing along two of his friends from college. “It’s a great time,” Horan said.

Father Donovan encouraged all of the teens to come to him with any of their questions or thoughts about entering religious life. “My position is to be a resource for you,” said Father Donovan. Bishop Moynihan also offered the students a few words on discerning their vocations, telling them to take time to determine how God is calling them. “You must think about what is best for you and where your attractions are,” the bishop said. “You reflect. You discern to see what God wants.”

For more information contact Father Donovan at the Office of Vocation Promotion at (315) 470-1468.

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