Home-grown vocations at St. Luke in McLean

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"We heard perhaps a call for doing something different. To bring to the world a different way of living and being that is enshrined in love and service. Each one of us received some kind of call, and we all responded," said Father David L. Martin, pastor of St. Luke Church in McLean during his homily at the parish "Home-grown Vocations" Mass May 31. The Mass celebrated the vocations and lives of six people who, every day, "go forth to bring God's word to everyone."

Concelebrating the Mass were: Father Anthony J. Pinizzotto, parochial vicar; Father William Byrne, pastor of St. Peter's on Capitol Hill in Washington; Father Edward Horkan, parochial vicar of St. James Church in Falls Church; and Father Scott Holmer, associate pastor of Sacred Heart Church in La Plata, Md.

Three priests, two religious sisters and one seminarian - who all have history and ties to St. Luke - were invited to participate in the event that culminated with a reception in the parish hall sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.

This special Mass on the feast of the Holy Trinity was planned after a conversation between Father Martin and Father Pinizzotto during religious vocations week. They decided there was a need to "bring local awareness to local vocations with people from the parish," said Father Pinizzotto. "We wanted to present vocations in a human kind of way. These people grew up in the parish, and they had real childhoods, have parents and friends in the parish and are known to people," he added.

The goal for the Mass was two-fold: first, to emphasize the importance and need for vocations, and second, to plant the seed of vocations in the lives of the young people of the parish by meeting the "local talent" from St. Luke who have such happy and fulfilling lives serving their religious orders, and more importantly, God.

"It was weird being behind the altar at St. Luke and seeing my parents in the same pew that they have sat in for more than 30 years." said Father Holmer. "It's wild."

Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts Sister Dede Byrne (Father Byrne's sibling) who serves in Washington, read the first reading; Sister, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Patricia Ann Long, who serves in Annandale, read the second reading; and seminarian Charles Wilkinson, studying under the Neocatechumenal Way at a seminary in Bangalore, India, led the Prayers of the Faithful.

Students from St. Luke School and the religious education program created posters that were on display at the reception for each person being honored. The young poster artists used photos provided by the honorees and their families and added descriptions and drawings to complete them.

Photos on display included: honorees running marathons (Father Horkan); serving as a missionary doctor overseas (Sister Dede); waterskiing and playing soccer (Father Holmer); golfing and praying as a child (Father Byrne), posing in a fake police line-up with her fellow sisters (Sister Patricia Ann); and walking along a beach (Wilkinson).

Brochures on "How to Meditate on Your Vocation," and prayer cards with a vocations prayer were also available at the reception.

"I thought the reception and Mass was a fantastic idea, the posters especially," said Joyce Franklin, director of religious education at St. Luke. "Seeing the religious sisters and priests in real life and seeing photos of a priest on a Jet-Ski was great,"

The event "far exceeded the expectations of both turnout and the enthusiasm of parishioners talking to the vocations," said Father Pinizzotto.

As the last few members of the parish departed and the Knights and committee members cleaned up, Nancy McDowell, a member of the planning committee, said she "was still in awe at how great it went."

Rausch can be reached at srausch@catholicherald.com.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015