Vocations Awareness Week

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Sisters, religious and diocesan priests made pizza night possible from start to finish at St. Vincent de Paul's Family Dining Room Oct. 30. Some also made cordial visits to the tables where families ate and to the Dream Center where children stayed busy with a variety of activities. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)
Sisters, religious and diocesan priests made pizza night possible from start to finish at St. Vincent de Paul’s Family Dining Room Oct. 30. Some also made cordial visits to the tables where families ate and to the Dream Center where children stayed busy with a variety of activities. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

We’re amid National Vocations Awareness Week. A dozen or so priests and women religious silently kicked it off a bit early on St. Vincent de Paul’s main campus Oct. 30.

“Silently kicked if off” is not only an understatement, but a reflection of the innate humility that lies within so many of the priests and women religious serving the Diocese of Phoenix. Many of them had already put in an honest day’s — and week’s — work, but opted to spend their Friday night serving even more.

Their task: make the regular pizza night in the Family Dining Room at St. Vincent de Paul a reality.

Fr. Dan Vollmer, pastor at St. Germaine Parish in Prescott Valley, joined retired Fr. Richard Felt for double duty in support of St. Vincent de Paul's regular pizza night Oct. 30. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)
Fr. Dan Vollmer, pastor at St. Germaine Parish in Prescott Valley, joined retired Fr. Richard Felt for double duty in support of St. Vincent de Paul’s regular pizza night Oct. 30. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

A good handful of active priests plus Fr. Richard Felt, who is retired, joined some sisters from the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate community in preparing and rolling out the pizza dough. They transferred it to a large wooden baking paddle and delivered it to a series of long tables where more priests and sisters stood in waiting.

Priests and sisters made St. Vincent de Paul's regular pizza night a reality Oct. 30. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)
Priests and sisters made St. Vincent de Paul’s regular pizza night a reality Oct. 30. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

The next group of priests and sisters — including retired Msgr. Tom Hever — covered the dough in marinara sauce, added cheese and any other toppings needed. Some worked alone. Others in pairs. The final pizza of the night was a team effort to create a meat-lovers version.

St. Vincent de Paul’s chef transferred them into and out of the oven. The priests and sisters filled up the warming trays. Their efficiency was so good and volume of help so great that one of the chefs said they finished a good 30 minutes earlier than average. It may have helped slightly that two priests had already staffed a previous shift to ensure fresh pizzas could be delivered to its other dining rooms.

I walked in partway through the process and began to take a few pictures. As many times as I’ve interviewed and photographed men and women in discernment, vowed religious and ordained priests over the years, never have I had so many kind, but serious requests to re-direct my lens elsewhere.

There were also friendly monetary bribes and motions to double or triple previous offers. I don’t know if it was the hairnet, the humility or a combination of the two. I largely heeded their request while refusing the bribe.

So far, I’ve only run across one photo documenting their effort. I kept running into a videographer though, so expect some video to surface at some point.

After hanging up her apron, Sr. Mary Beata IM, PVMI, socialized with guests in the Family Dining Room at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Oct. 30. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)
After hanging up her apron, Sr. Mary Beata IM, PVMI, socialized with guests in the Family Dining Room at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Oct. 30. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

Some of the priests wanted to also make sure I mention one of the post-kitchen jobs a sister had: restroom attendant. Guests are temporarily using the restrooms in the kitchen while the stalls in the client area are under renovation. To ensure no young child got lost and to ensure guests weren’t lingering around an industrial kitchen, one of the sisters wrote down first names of each person as they entered the restroom and checked it off upon their safe return.

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Vocation resources

Heading to Mass during National Vocations Awareness Week? Key in on these homily notes.

Prayers for vocations in English and Español

Are you being called to the priesthood or religious life?

Religious orders for men and women

Overcoming fear of the priesthood

Catholic memes

Social media: #ThinkingPriesthood, #YCL15

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