By Mary Catherine Machalec
Special to The Texas Catholic
It all started with a chalice.
A few years ago, Father Stephen Ingram, parochial vicar at Prince of Peace Catholic Community in Plano, found a forgotten chalice among his things, which he realized had not yet been blessed.
“I thought to myself, ‘we should show the students of Prince of Peace Catholic School that we bless the vessels used in Mass.’ I had no idea it would turn into something bigger than my initial plan,” Father Ingram explained.
Father Ingram brought the idea to school administration and they began preparing the blessing to occur during a school Mass, but quickly realized they had an opportunity to make a more significant impact on the students.
What emerged was the Vocational Chalice Program, or VCP, as it is affectionately known on campus. Every week at the all-school Mass, one homeroom is chosen to receive the chalice that is used in Mass, and throughout the week they pray specifically for their vocation in class. The younger students use written prayers that are given to them by their teacher, while upper grade levels are encouraged to speak from the heart and create their own. The goal is to help the students engage more deeply and to reflect on their own vocation, something that may not be on their mind yet.
“A lot of times vocational discernment is under the surface as kids grow up. They might have an idea but it is not something they think about,” Father Ingram said. “I did not consider where the Lord was calling me until after college, and if I had been paying attention more I might have discovered it sooner.”
The program has been active for two-and-a-half years, and had a favorable response from the students.
“Before attending Catholic school I had no idea what a vocation was, let alone that I had one, too,” said Sofia Floriani, an eighth grader at Prince of Peace, who has participated in the VCP since its inception. “A vocation is a special calling we receive from God, and this program has helped me recognize that God is calling each of us in a unique way to serve His Church.”
“The VCP has impacted my view for my future vocation,” said Presley Andras, an eighth-grader at Prince of Peace. “I have learned that I need to be prayerful and open to what I am called to do in the Church. Whether it be religious life or married life, I am prayerfully considering how I can use my gifts to serve.”
The Prince of Peace community is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the school this year, which coincides with a major construction project to renovate the campus that just launched last month.
Father Ingram sees the two intrinsically linked — the Vocational Chalice Program bringing awareness to vocations and the future of the Church, and the physical reality of building the future of Prince of Peace Catholic School.
“Religious discernment begins with awareness,” Father Ingram stated. “If they’re not aware, they’re not going to choose it.”