Research persistence yielded lasting tribute to parish's priestly and religious vocations
In this article, a member of St. Peter parish in Jefferson City describes a process he and his parish's vocations committee undertook to honor people serving the Church as priests and religious sisters and brothers.
By Vic Buechter
St. Peter parish's vocations committee was discussing ways to promote vocations. One idea, provided in a packet of information from the diocesan Vocation Office, was to create a local version of "The Called Wall." That would mean "building" a wall of posters containing pictures and short biographies of priests, sisters and brothers who are natives of the parish. The committee agreed that this would be a good way to honor the many priests and religious we have from our parish and also inspire our children and get them thinking about a religious vocation.
I began work on the project in December 2006 by looking through our parish archives, where a list of 26 priests, three brothers and approximately 73 sisters, all native to our parish, were found. I had pictures of most of the priests but none for the sisters, and no biographies on anyone. Next, I contacted The Catholic Missourian office and went over and dug through their files. I pulled out information on the priests ordained after 1956 when the Jefferson City diocese was formed. I also contacted the Archdiocese of St. Louis to get the information I needed on those diocesan priests who were ordained prior to 1956. We also had priests who had entered LaSalette, the Franciscans, Maryknoll and the Jesuits, so each of these organizations needed to be contacted.
The Catholic Missourian had little information about the sisters who were native to the parish, because many of them had been serving for many years outside the diocese. However, we did track down websites and archivist names for many of the congregations of sisters that I would need to get information from.
I began contacting the 19 congregations of sisters and brothers in January 2007. I was able to do about 90 percent of the work via the Internet. Most of the congregations were able to e-mail the biographies I needed, and some were even able to e-mail pictures. I also did some letter-writing, calling and mailing of information. I put all the biographies into M.S. Word documents, scanned all the pictures and stored them electronically.
I completed the project in December 2007 after building 12 posters honoring 46 sisters, 23 priests and the brothers. Each of the posters has been catalogued into the St. Peter archive system, and the pictures and biographies are stored on a parish computer.
Currently we are displaying two posters in St. Peter School and one in the church, and I am rotating them monthly. We also display the posters at various events within the parish. We are very proud of the many priestly and religious vocations that have come from St. Peter parish, and we hope the work of highlighting them will, at least in some small way, encourage others to consider whether God is calling them to a vocation of special service in the Church.
Anyone who wants the packet of information on how to promote vocations in the parish explaining "The Called Wall" and other projects can call the diocesan Vocation Office at (573) 635-9127, or e-mail: email@example.com.