By George Gregory

Special to The CS&T

DOWNINGTOWN – Cardinal Justin Rigali presided over a Holy Hour Jan. 10 at Bishop Shanahan High School in Downingtown. The theme of the Holy Hour, attended by the faculty and entire student body of Bishop Shanahan, was vocations awareness and prayer for religious vocations.

“Each one of you has a specific contribution to make to the world,” Cardinal Rigali said. “You must not be afraid to ask God for a true understanding of the vocation He has in mind for you, and if you feel the call to be a priest or sister, to answer generously.”

“As we kneel before Him in the Eucharist, we pray the Lord of the Harvest to send more workers into His vineyard,” he said. {{more}}

The school already is an archdiocesan vocations leader – six seminarians who are Shanahan graduates were in attendance at the Holy Hour: John Masson, John Stokely and Mark Cavara, all of St. Agnes Parish in West Chester; David O’Brien of St. Peter Parish in West Brandywine; Matthew Robinson of SS. Philip and James Parish in Exton; and Alessandro Giardini of St. Joseph Parish in Downingtown.

“Bishop Shanahan is the only diocesan high school to have six seminarians in formation for priesthood, and that is really something special,” said Father Kevin Gallagher, vocations director for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Current students think so too.

“It was inspirational to see graduates who entered the seminary back here at Shanahan, especially the three from last year’s graduating class,” said senior Kyle Gavin.

In life, as in the Holy Hour, “if you’re open to God, you can block out distractions that could lead you away from His will for you,” said senior Leah Pappelman.

Shanahan’s acclaimed choral ensemble provided music for worship during the celebration.

Also at Adoration were council members of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, together with their novices and postulants. For senior Lauren Radie, the sisters’ presence was a reminder that “as a sister, a young woman could experience the joy of teaching, and I believe God wants us to be happy in our life.”

During the silent Adoration, students were encouraged to reflect on certain questions that included: “Do you believe that God has a plan for you?” and “Who among your friends do you believe would bring peace to others as a confessor?”

“While vocations to the priesthood and religious life are another form of love and service, and are very necessary for the Church, all vocations are a gift from God,” Cardinal Rigali said.

The Cardinal’s message resonated with the students.

“We must be open to listening to God,” said freshman Anthony Sassano, “so as to do what He sent us to do.”

George Gregory is a parishioner of St. Cecilia Parish in Coatesville.