Grade schoolers learn about vocations


By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

BETTENDORF — Fifth- and sixth-graders from religious education programs and Catholic schools in the Davenport and Clinton deaneries participated in a vocations awareness day at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish.

Anne Marie Amacher
Bishop Martin Amos answers questions posed by fifth- and sixth-graders from the Davenport and Clinton deaneries during a vocations awareness day Oct. 12 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf.

More than 80 youths attended the first-time event, said Joyce Kloft, minister of faith formation at St. Ann Parish in Long Grove and the event’s coordinator. With chaperons and speakers, attendance totaled more than 100 people.

After ice-breakers the youths were divided into groups and attended three sessions. Youth ministers Luke Ebener from St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport, Brenda Bertram from Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton and Sara Scogland from Lourdes led the youths in trust-building activities.


Father Corey Close, parochial vicar at Prince of Peace Parish, and Father Thom Hennen, director of vocations for the Diocese of Davenport, talked to boys on the call to the priesthood.
Sister Anthony Worrell and Sister Seraphin Beck of the Franciscan Sisters of Christ the Divine Teacher in Davenport, and Sister Theresa Pham and Sister Jacqueline Wagner of the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm in Davenport, spoke to the girls on their call to religious life and what they do as Sisters.

Deacon John Wagner and his wife Cheryl of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport spoke of the permanent diaconate and the wife’s role in that ministry.

Bishop Martin Amos answered questions of the youths during a question and answer session.

“What is that thing on your head?” asked one boy. “This is a zucchetto or skull cap,” the bishop said. He explained that it has gotten smaller over the centuries and helps protect and keep clean the miter. Bishops wear a magenta-colored zucchetto. “It’s not pink!” Cardinals wear scarlet and the pope wears white.

Another youth asked if Bishop Amos has met the pope. He said yes, he had met St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.

“What’s it like to be bishop?” It involves lots of meetings. The bishop needs time to write homilies for various Masses. He said not only did he write a homily for the Mass at Lourdes that day, but also for a 50th wedding anniversary Mass in Muscatine. He also presides at most confirmations in the diocese, but doesn’t get to celebrate many baptisms or weddings as bishop.

“What’s your story on being a priest?” Bishop Amos said he always wanted to be a priest. After high school he went to college seminary, and then to theology seminary. As a priest he served in a parish, taught at the high school and college level, was a principal and returned to parish ministry. He did not expect to become a bishop. He said he was surprised to get the call to be an auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Cleveland and later to become bishop of Davenport.

“What hobbies do you have?” “I like to play in the dirt,” the bishop said. In addition to working outside, he does carpentry.

The youths continued with questions ranging from how many Masses he’s said in a day to what time he gets up in the morning. Following the Q & A, the group attended Mass at which Bishop Amos presided.

Lunch followed Mass, with Serra Club members helping to serve, and then sessions continued.

Kloft said she was happy with the turnout for a first-time event. “I think if the parents find this a priority, then the kids will want to come hear what is being said. We are planting seeds.”

Fr. Hennen was impressed with attendance and hopes to offer more sessions in the future. “Maybe we can move this around the diocese in our other deaneries,” he said.

Sixth-grader Sadie Wagschal of St. Anthony Parish in Davenport said she wanted to attend to hear options as she considers her future. “I also want to help my spiritual side.”

Sixth-grader Kimberly Bailey of St. Anthony’s said she liked seeing new places and thought the day would be fun.

Fifth-grader Ben Castrey of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport said a friend invited him and “I wanted to get some religion.”

Pray for vocations

A holy hour for vocations will be held Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport. It will be led by Father Thom Hennen, director of vocations for the Diocese of Davenport. The holy hour is in honor of National Vo­cations Awareness Week, Nov. 2-9.
The holy hour will include exposition, a time of prayer and reflection, recitation of the rosary for vocations and conclude with Benediction. It is a time to ask for God’s blessing on the diocese, seminarians and those discerning any vocation.
For more information, contact of office of vocations at (563) 888-4358 or email vocations@

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