By Seth Gonzales
Special to The Texas Catholic
IRVING—Religious sisters and consecrated women from across the state came together for the first Marian Dinner, an event intended to be an informative and interactive session for young women interested in a religious vocation.
More than 60 participants were in attendance April 16 at the dinner, which was sponsored by the Diocese of Dallas’ Office of Vocations and held at the University of Dallas.
Bishop Kevin J. Farrell gave the blessing before dinner and acknowledged the large presence of attendees.
“It’s so important in these times to show people that the church is very much alive,” Bishop Farrell said. “The biggest question that is always posed before our mind today is, ‘Has God forgotten us?’ Well, he hasn’t forgotten about us. The problem we have is we don’t listen. So this is an opportunity for us to open our minds and talk to him and to ask ourselves, ‘What is God calling me to do?’ “
The Marian Dinner stands in parallel to the St. Andrew Dinner, a regular event sponsored by the Office of Vocations of the Diocese of Dallas, which is intended to give young men a one-on-one opportunity to discuss the priesthood with priests from across the diocese.
The Marian Dinner began with Mass in the university’s Church of the Incarnation, which was followed by a moment for prayer and Adoration. Dinner was later served in the Haggar University Center.
Father Edwin Leonard, parochial vicar at St. Rita Catholic Church who celebrated the Mass, said the readings of the liturgy discussing St. Stephen’s martyrdom were particularly relevant to those considering the religious life.
“I think for us, it’s a wonderful witness of the new evangelization,” Father Leonard said. “Even though it can be difficult for us in our lives, we are called to preach that message. As baptized faithful, we are all called to holiness and proclaiming and teaching all nations.”
Father John Szatkowski, the director of the Office of Vocations, and Tammy Grady, an assistant at the office, saw a need for an event similar to that of the St. Andrew Dinner.
“We know that as far as vocations in the church are concerned, God always calls young women,” said Grady, who has been a consecrated member of Regnum Christi for 18 years. “Women don’t have too many avenues to find out about the religious life, so we’re trying to provide a friendly atmosphere for them to talk about it.”
Grady, however, is aware that not every woman who attends the dinner will be called to the religious life.
“We don’t suspect every girl here is thinking seriously about being a religious sister,” she said. “Even still, it helps them to know a little bit about the different religious orders and what it means to be religious or consecrated.”
Southern Methodist University freshman Julie Martin was one of those in the audience who was grateful to the diocese for hosting the event.
“It’s just an invitation for me to open the doors and follow God’s call; to have a radical response to him,” said Martin, a native of Rhode Island. “Events like these show that you can live this life. It is a possibility to live a religious life.”
To learn about the religious life, contact Tammy Grady at firstname.lastname@example.org or 214-907-9906.