Paul Reddy '19 earned first place in the Serra Club of St. Louis vocation essay contest, in which more than 470 essays were entered from the Catholic high schools throughout the Archdiocese.
Reddy, a member of St. Ferdinand Parish, wrote his essay about transitional Deacon John Schneier '10. He received $1,000 with his first place award.
The Serra Club is an international organization with more than 1,100 clubs in 46 countries that fosters and affirms Catholic vocations to the ministerial priesthood and vowed religious life.
Following is Reddy's essay responding to the question: "How has my relationship with a priest, sister, seminarian or deacon enriched my life as a Catholic?"
"Three Hail Mary's a day. That's all it takes." The rest of my sixth grade class absent-mindedly nodded their heads, minds fixed on the recess period that awaited. I went through the same motions as my peers, but something about what our guest had just said stuck with me. What began as a rudimentary English class time-waster turned into the inaugural moment of my discernment. I now recognize the day John Schneier — an alumni of St. Ferdinand Catholic grade school and now a transitional deacon in the Archdiocese of St. Louis — came to speak to my sixth grade class as something of a middle school metanoia. I loved the occasions when John came around, and not only because those times signified the absence of memorizing prepositions for an hour. Visits from John meant experiencing his authentic joy for Jesus. In John's enthusiasm, I was able to get a glimpse at what it was like to be on the path to priesthood.
Praying three Hail Mary's every day is how I keep in touch with Jesus and His Mother as I continue to discern my vocation. However, I know that my vocation is not merely a career choice, but the choice to serve God that I must make every day. I strive to be hyper-aware of my daily actions in order to know myself — and the gifts and talents I've been given by God — in a more in-depth way. Imitating the infectious joy demonstrated by John throughout his vocational journey has allowed this process to be surprisingly easy. I have faith that, through prayer, I will one day know exactly the long-term way in which God has called me to use those gifts and talents in order to bring about the Kingdom of God on Earth.