Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sister Martha Mary Carpenter and Sister Pamela Catherine Peasel witnessed at the Steubenville West Conference held in Tucson, Arizona. We share Sister Martha’s reflections on the weekend.
What a SPIRIT-FILLED experience. The was a weekend of GROWTH for all….our teenagers experienced an ‘expanded’ view of the Church and saw hundreds and hundreds of their peers enthusiastically living, owning, sharing and celebrating the basic facts of our faith: that GOD LOVES US, and in His LOVE, HE FORGIVES US, and finally that HE IS ALWAYS WITH US, He will never leave us alone!
Our teens were ’shocked’ at the number of young people who came up to us and would always say, “We have never seen REAL Sisters before! We were delighted to see our teens ranging from 13-17…soaking it all in, joining in activities, singing and praying with the crowd and getting out of their comfort zones and getting know other people!!
Time line: On Friday,July 14th, the Feast of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, 15 teenagers from all corners of the Reservation, 3 Franciscan Friars (a Deacon, Novice, Postulant), our ‘vocation director’ and bus driver, Fabian Terry and his assistant, Waylon Hooke and the two of us headed down to Tucson for the Steubenville-West Conference…attended by over 1800 teenagers from throughout the United Sates-even Hawaii.! The Conference was JESUS-filled and therefore JOYFUL! Every moment of the Conference was organized and accounted for and the kids were exposed and taught various prayer forms, sang their hearts out, celebrated the presence of God, and got to know one another.
Saturday, July 15th-The Feast of St. Bonaventure...The theme of the Conference was REFUGE…GOD IS OUR REFUGE! The keynote speaker, main Mass celebrant, leader of nightly Adoration was Fr. Mike Schmitz! And he was inspiring, motivating, challenging, delightful, and lots of fun.
Of the almost 2000 people present, there were only 3 Sisters…the two of us and Sister Mary Patrick from Nigeria who is missioned in a city school in New Mexico. Because of this, we were stopped many times by young people who have never seen a REAL Sister. We were asked many questions, and several young ladies even asked ‘how to become a Sister’ and told us that they really wanted to be a Sister.
On the last day, Sunday, July 16th, toward the end of Mass, Fr. Mike asked ALL the Sisters to come to the stage…and we were seated at the very back of the conference center…..so Fr. Mike teased us a lot on the way up to the stage..
Upon our arrival on the stage,Fr. Mike introduced us and gave a beautiful vocation talk that had people in tears…then the Bishop of Tucson spoke of vocations and thanked us for our vocation and our service to the Church. Fr. Mike then asked all the young ladies who wanted to be Sisters….and over 100 young ladies came forward in front of the stage…and some were crying happy tears. Fr. Mike and the Bishop prayed over them and asked all present to remember these beautiful young ladies in their prayers that they would have the courage to nurture their vocation and follow Jesus more closely.