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Vocation day emphasizes living ‘in rhythm’ with God

03 5.11.17_voc.day.IMG 700pxStudents at Star of the Sea School in San Francisco attended a vocation day on April 28, organized for the second year in a row by Contemplatives of St. Joseph founder and Star of the Sea parochial vicar Father Vito Perrone. (Photos by Valerie Schmalz/Catholic San Francisco)

 

03 5.11.17_vocationsday presenters 350pxA group portrait of some of the presenters.



 


May 11, 2017
Valerie Schmalz

Waving their hands, stamping their feet, singing and at times shouting in time to the drums, Star of the Sea students got a sometimes raucous perspective on religious life at a vocation day at the San Francisco Catholic elementary school on a sunny Friday morning.

“I thought that the rhythm, the beat, in music was going to satisfy my soul completely,” Los Angeles seminarian Brian Humphrey, a former Los Angeles music producer and engineer, told a roomful of fourth through eighth graders who he led in beat sounds in time to drumming by Contemplative of St. Joseph Brother Andre Moreno. “But it didn’t. It didn’t.”

Humphrey told the children he left the music business after 16 years even though he had had the chance to work with big names including Bruno Mars and Beyoncé. “I decided to give up the rhythm of music alone,” Humphrey said. “God is king of the universe. I am now working with music, the music of God’s love.”

Humphrey and Brother Andre Moreno’s presentation led into the culminating performance by a quartet of eighth graders on drums and guitars of “This is Amazing Grace” by artist Phil Wickham, with lyrics that begin “Who breaks the power of sin and darkness? Whose love is mighty and so much stronger? The king of glory, the king above all kings.”

“Parents, teachers, and kids are all talking about vocation day! And many of the kids said they are now thinking about a religious or priestly vocation,” said Contemplatives of St. Joseph founder and Star of the Sea parochial vicar Father Vito Perrone, who organized the April 28 vocation day for the second year in a row.

The idea, Father Perrone said, “is to expose the children to religious vocations – to the diaconate, priesthood, religious brothers and sisters. To help them realize this is really an option in their lives.”

About seven years ago, recently deceased Archbishop George Niederauer approved Father Perrone’s concept and the diocesan priest founded the Contemplatives of St. Joseph, an archdiocesan order of priests and brothers which combines contemplative and active life. The monastery is located on the grounds of Mater Dolorosa Church in South San Francisco.

The day also included short talks by three sisters of the Daughters of Carmel, a contemplative-active order whose U.S.-Canadian headquarters are in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, St. Mary’s Cathedral Deacon R. Christoph Sandoval, soon to be Dominican seminarian Brendan Ford who is music director at Star of the Sea Parish, and others.

Each of the speakers spoke very briefly about hearing God’s call. The stories ranged from Daughter of Carmel Sister Theofila, who grew up in a Buddhist family and converted to Catholicism at age 14, to Contemplative Brother Chris Coyne, who was the sixth child in a large Catholic family. He was encouraged by his parents to become a priest but avoided it for years, he told the children. He is now preparing to enter the seminary to study for the priesthood, Father Perrone said.

The sisters, Father Perrone and Brother Chris Coyne then visited the classrooms of grades K-3 after lunch, and prayed and chatted with the younger children.

Father Perrone said the vocation day brings “people who are living this sort of life to speak to the children and to encourage them, so that if they are hearing a call, they will have the courage to respond. And that they have the encouragement from what happens today to say, ‘hey, I can do this.’”

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