By Elizabeth Lowe
PARKVILLE – At the first Mass of the new school year for the parish school of St. Ursula, Parkville, Father Stephen E. Hook spoke about vocations.
“You will all receive a vocation in your life,” Father Hook, pastor of St. Ursula, said in his homily. “It is a call of service. Whatever it is God calls you to, he gives you everything you need to be successful.”
The Sept. 6 Mass was held the week the parish was remembering and praying for parishioners who responded to the call for a vocation to the priesthood, diaconate, religious life, marriage or the single life in celebration of its 75th anniversary this year.
Every Sunday in September is dedicated to remembering parishioners who were baptized, married or buried at St. Ursula, and those who attended the parish school or religious education program.
At the parish over the years, more than 10,500 children have been baptized, more than 3,700 couples have been married and more than 30 have discerned vocations to the priesthood or diaconate, Father Hook said. Bishop W. Francis Malooly of the Diocese of Wilmington and formerly of the Archdiocese of Baltimore; Monsignor Kevin T. Schenning, pastor of St. Joseph, Fullerton; and Monsignor Edward M. Miller, pastor of St. Bernardine, Baltimore, are among those who responded to God’s call.
“Vocations come from relationships,” Father Hook said, “that one-on-one, knowing a priest, seeing a priest who is joyful. The parish, in the past, has planted those seeds.”
Sister of Notre Dame de Namur Joan Kelly, principal of St. Ursula School, said “we are a parish school and probably more than ever before.”
Father Hook “literally runs across the street (to the school) to make that connection. We try to work together,” said Sister Joan, who noted the school has about 600 students.
Eighty percent of school families are registered St. Ursula parishioners, Father Hook said.
“The school is the lifeblood,” he said. “The school definitely benefits the parish.”
The parish is “stable” with 3,300 registered families, of which about 2,000 are active, Father Hook said.
The anniversary celebration is an effort to “build community” and “reconnect people with the church,” Father Hook said. “Once I get people involved, then they’ll be willing to take on the work of evangelization.”
To conclude its anniversary celebration, the parish is holding an Oktoberfest event Oct. 21, the feast of St. Ursula.
“It’s always exciting when you have something to celebrate,” said Father Hook, who added the anniversary fosters “a sense of thankfulness, the many blessings St. Ursula has received from God.”
If you go:
What: Oktoberfest, featuring a beer garden, the Ravens game, face and pumpkin painting, German food
When: 12:30-5 p.m. Oct. 21
Where: St. Ursula School, 8900 Harford Road, Parkville
Cost: Adult $5, kids $3, family of four $16
For information, call 410-665-2111
Copyright (c) Sept. 16, 2012 CatholicReview.org