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A Vocation Jubilee

Presence at the University of Mary's Vocation Jamboree, in Bismark, North Dakota

“Before you, Lord, we can only say like Mary, ‘Let it be done to me according to your word.’ (Luke 1:38)”  - Fr. Luigi Faccenda

With my carry-on bag full of freshly printed bookmarks that include this quote of our founder, I boarded the plane to Bismarck, North Dakota for a three-day mission to University of Mary's Vocations Jamboree, April 17-19, 2018.
The flight arrived in just enough time for my host family to pick me up at the airport and get me to the university for the representatives' welcome dinner.  The university's Campus Outreach staff and student volunteers offered a warm and hospitable welcome to the many representatives of institutes of consecrated life and service organizations from all over the nation.  
Throughout the 3-day schedule of events, there were multiple opportunities, both formal and informal, to personally meet and engage the students in discussions about their vocational journeys. As it was our first time participating, I made efforts to connect with as many students, faculty and staff as possible.
The actual vocations fair took place all day on Wednesday, April 18th in the brand new “Lumen Vitae” student center.  As the event is a collaborative effort with the Diocese of Bismarck, there were also Catholic high school students and young men and women from all over the diocese who came to see and learn about the many possibilities available to them in their search for God's will in their lives.  Many students that I encountered had a beautiful openness to both marriage and the priesthood or consecrated life, saying to me things like, "I just want to do God's will!"  The rich and authentic Marian spirituality and evangelical zeal that permeates the university community certainly encourages students toward a true discernment of their vocations.  It was a joy for me to witness such availability in so many young adults.
The event climaxed in a keynote address on Wednesday evening by Dr. Gianna Emmanuela Molla, the daughter for whom St. Gianna Beretta Molla gave her life. The following morning, the closing Mass was celebrated by unexpected guest Raymond Cardinal Burke, Archbishop Emeritus of St. Louis and current member of the Apostolic Signatura.  It was a privilege to meet both Cardinal Burke and Msgr. James Shea, president of the University of Mary, after the closing Mass.  I shared with them each Fr. Faccenda's thesis on Fr. Kolbe, the Immaculata, and the Most Holy Trinity and also his Symbiosis: Contemplation and Action.  Cardinal Burke's response when I shared the gifts was, "Thank you.  I have a GREAT devotion to St. Maximilian Kolbe."
Thank you to all for your prayers for this important and successful vocational outreach!  A special thank you to Mary O'Donnell—M.I. member and University of Mary graduate—through whom we received the invitation to the Vocations Jamboree.  And heartfelt gratitude also to Fr. Kolbe Volunteers, Joe and Sue O'Donnell, who helped make the trip possible.  Please continue to pray for all the students at University of Mary whose vocational seeds were nurtured in this event. 
Please pray ALWAYS for more Fr. Kolbe Missionaries of the Immaculata, here in the U.S. and throughout the world!