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A poster highlights men and women of the Arlington Diocese pursuing vocations

Have you ever wondered who answered the call made during the weekly petitions at church praying for vocations? The Office of Vocations has created a poster featuring more than 60 men and women in formation for the priesthood or religious life.

“One thing that really struck me looking at the poster is I feel like it radiates joy,” said Anne-Marie Minnis, Office of Vocations event coordinator. “Everyone is smiling. Everyone is happy. It is a look that you don’t see a lot in our world today.”

The smiling faces are in religious orders and seminaries around the world, including Paraguay and Israel.

The poster was inspired by a similar one created by the Diocese of Houston, said Minnis.

“To see so many men and women from our diocese entering the religious life is a deeply encouraging sign that our families and our parishes are doing something very right,” said Father J.D. Jaffe, director of vocations.

Minnis explained that there are several routes to entering formation. If someone enters the seminary for the diocese they go through the diocesan office, but it is not required for those joining a religious order.

religious life poster

Many of the names on the poster are familiar to the St. Therese Vocation Society, a group that prays for vocations. Members receive a calendar to urge prayers for specific men and women discerning a vocation.

A poster from the Office of Vocations features more than 60 men and women in formation for the priesthood or religious life.

For Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist John Frances LaFever, her desire to join the Franciscans began with a chocolate cake. 

“One of my first experiences with the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist was one sister’s expression of gratitude through a gift of homemade cake to my co-worker,” she said. “My community, with devotion to Christ in the Eucharist, takes extra care in the preparation of and presentation of food, and on a very human level. That was part of my first attraction.”

Sister LaFever, a Fairfax native, lives at the community motherhouse in Meriden, Conn. Positive experiences of priests and parish staff helped inspire her vocation and challenged her to learn more. Her discernment included her parish priest, the diocesan women’s discernment group and a spiritual director.

The vocations office helps young people discern a vocation through activities that put them in contact with priests and religious.


“Father Jaffe always says the vocations that we have are a credit to families and to the priests and religious who are working in the diocese inspiring young people to pursue their vocation,” said Minnis.

Dominican Brother Brendan Baran said the Arlington Diocese had a huge influence on his vocation. He moved to Alexandria in 2011 and became active in the Young Adult Group and Men’s Group at Blessed Sacrament Church.

“Father Rich Dyer was especially influential and supportive in helping me discern my vocation,” he said. “Father Jaffe helped me consider a vocation with the diocese, and was very supportive in my discernment with the Dominicans, as well.”

Order of Discalced Carmelites Brother Joseph (Gannon) of the Holy Family experienced an interior call to the priesthood during Holy Thursday Mass in 2013; he entered the postulancy in Milwaukee in November 2014.

“The wonderful spiritual life found in the Diocese of Arlington was a great support in discerning my vocation,” he said, adding that he considers Winchester his home. “Of particular note are the vibrant, reverent liturgies and excellent, nourishing preaching found at each parish within the diocese that I have ever attended.”

He said no single person impacted him “but the collective witness of our amazing priests has always been a special inspiration.”

“I made several visits to different communities of religious men, but once I visited the Discalced Carmelite Friars in the winter of 2013, I knew that I had found what I was looking for,” he said.

Brother Gannon is doing apostolic work with the Secular Carmelites in this area and hopes to attend Catholic University in Washington in the fall to pursue a philosophy degree.

Minnis said everyone on the poster is in formation currently. They are either from the Arlington Diocese or spent several years during their discernment period in the diocese.

“It is really neat to see the diversity that’s on the poster,” said Minnis. “God calls all types of people at all times of life.”

The posters will be inserted in parish bulletins the weekend of May 6-7. You can also contact the Office of Vocations to request a poster at vocations@arlingtondiocese.org or 703/841-2514.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017