By Anne Marie Amacher
“My objective is not for you to be a priest or deacon or Sister. The Lord will call you. Today I hope you will open your heart to see where the Lord will take you,” said Father Marty Goetz. The vocations director for the Diocese of Davenport spoke to Catholic school eighth-graders at Vocations Awareness Day sessions Oct. 25 at St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf and Oct. 26 at St. Alphonsus Parish in Mount Pleasant.
The format for this year’s program was different from previous years – thanks to feedback from past classes. Instead of having the event focus on talks by priests, deacons and Sisters about their religious calling, Fr. Goetz decided to focus on teaching students about their gifts.
He talked about his ordination day and how two hours before that event his brother Dan asked him what “sign” he had received that he was called to the priesthood.
“It doesn’t work that way,” Fr. Goetz told the students. “God speaks to us in ways we can understand.”
Fr. Goetz said his call was not only through personal prayer, but that of the diocese, the Church and the seminary.
Then he pulled rubber bracelets off his wrist one by one to explain their significance in his life. A purple band reads “hope.” The green one reads “Iowa Donor Network.” (He donated one of his kidneys to his sister last December.) His blue and gray band reads “Let God Guide You.” A solid blue one reads “Attitude.” A light blue band reads “It Only Takes 1 of 12.” A black one reads “Pray for Vocations.”
And then there is a simple rubber band. “When I’m feeling down, I snap myself (for doing something wrong or for not feeling up to doing something). I snap myself back that God created me to do good.”
And what started this wrist band craze? The WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) wrist band, Fr. Goetz said. “Ask yourself, ‘What does Jesus want ME to be?’”
He then asked the youths to think of him as he runs the New York City Marathon on Nov. 7. Each school chose a mile of the marathon in which Fr. Goetz will pray for them.
Following his talks, he and youth ministers from around the diocese led three breakout sessions relating to the sharing of gifts and talents. Mass was celebrated at each site by Bishop Martin Amos.
Following the daylong event, each student received a WWJD bracelet. “Wear it proudly,” Fr. Goetz said.
Students from John F. Kennedy Catholic School in Davenport shared their feelings about the vocation day:
“I learned about ways God can call you,” Caleb Wagner said. “It was a very enjoyable time.”
“I learned how to pray in a new way, how to work together, and to listen to God when he is calling,” said Jacob Poster.
Playing games helped Tommy Wolfe learn more about God and how God calls you and why, Tommy said.
“It helped me to start thinking about trying to listen to what God is telling me and calling me to do with my life,” said Katie Lemons.
“It made me feel closer to God and Jesus and has sparked my interest in becoming a priest,” said Jack VanScyoc.
Notre Dame Junior/Senior High School students in Burlington responded, too.
“I thought it was fun because I got to learn more about God and meet new people,” said Logan Hoschek.
“I know more about vocations now than I did two weeks ago and I got to meet some cool people,” added Andrew Rumley.