Story and photos by Crystal Gabrielle M Sylvester
‘Mary, Mother of Vocations in the Workplace’ was the sub-theme of the La Divin Devotions on Sunday, February 10.
The gospel reading (Luke 5:1–11) focused on Jesus’ meeting with Simon Peter by the Lake of Gennesaret. Simon Peter and the other fishermen worked hard all night long and caught nothing but reluctantly obeyed Jesus’ instructions to “put out into the deep and pay out your nets for a catch”. The result was an unexpected catch so large that the nets began to tear.
During this La Divin Devotions Sunday the congregation was blessed by the sharing of two parishioners: Maria Daly-Worrell and Dr Ryan Pustam.
Dr Pustam began reflecting on several questions we often ask ourselves: ‘Why am I here?’; ‘Who made us?’; ‘Who is God?’; ‘Why did God make us?’.
He stated that these questions plagued him during his teenage years, and many spend their whole lives trying to discern the answers. His earliest memory of hearing the word ‘vocation’ was during an assembly at his alma mater Presentation College, San Fernando. He made it a mission to find out more and in the process discovered his own vocation.
According to Dr Pustam a vocation can be defined as a call from God. Sometimes we think of our career or profession as a vocation, but although they may overlap they are not the same.
A career is something you can have to support yourself and contribute in some way to the good of society, belief in God is not necessary to have a career and one can switch careers based on preference.
However, when we talk about a vocation it is not “what I would prefer but rather what does God want me to be. Your vocation is not something you can switch like a job”.
Dr Pustam stressed: “It is important for us to remember that our first and most important call from God is a call to holiness. It is the only vocation we all have in common.” At the annunciation, Mary’s ‘yes’, allowed God to realise the greatest vocation anyone has been asked to live. She became both model and mother of all vocations.
At first, Dr Pustam had contemplated a vocation to the priesthood but through prayer and discernment he discovered God had other plans for him. He said that his vocation as a medical doctor is stressful yet rewarding. Answering ‘yes’ to his vocation call was the best decision of his life as nothing in life is more fulfilling than doing God’s work.
Dr Pustam arrives at work at 7.30 a.m. and spends the day examining patients, ordering tests and adjusting medications. Sometimes treatment is possible but often only comfort can be offered before the end of the patients’ life. Bearing witness to a constant stream of hopefulness and then despair takes a toll emotionally and spiritually.
During low points in his vocation, cases occur that renew his faith even when a medical intervention appears impossible. He recounted such a case in which the wife of a patient with a dangerous neurological condition, a blood clot, and unbearable pain, prayed consistently for her husband. Miraculously, the aspects of the condition that prevented proper medical treatment cleared up leading to an unexpected recovery.
Maria Daly-Worrell serves as acting principal of La Divina Pastora, Siparia Boys RC. She sees teaching as a vocation. She explained that teaching in an all-boys school with the task of shaping the minds of very young individuals is both challenging and rewarding. There are days of joy, excitement, satisfaction and some days of sadness, disappointments and worry.
The fact that the school is a Catholic institution named after Our Lady under the title ‘La Divina Pastora’ fosters a great reliance on Mary’s intercessory prayers.
Leading students to academic success is only one aspect of her vocation. She is also responsible for nurturing the students’ relationship with Jesus Christ. Programmes, projects and activities to nurture students’ spirituality are constantly developed or revamped.
Daly-Worrell shared that there are days that the strength provided by trusting in Mary’s intercessory power is the only way challenges are conquered. These challenges include school accidents, disrespectful pupils, irate parents, frustrated pupils and impatient teachers.
Pupils receive spiritual guidance during the school assembly every morning, at the school Mass with Fr Alan Hall, visits to the prayer room, and through ensuring that the traditions, teachings and prayers of the Church are taught. Mary’s presence gives inner peace and the strength to overcome any overwhelming situations.
Daly-Worrell also shared several humorous anecdotes experienced during daily interactions with students. One of the most memorable anecdotes centred on the students’ belief that Sr Emmerentia Smith HF (deceased) who lived in the convent near the school for many years was “the Mary who lived across the road”. The combination of Sr Emma’s kindness and appearance convinced the young students that Mary lived near the school.
Dr Pustam and Daly-Worrell both testified that the rosary and Mary’s intercession were central to their choice of vocation. Both speakers advised the congregation to trust Mary and pray the rosary daily seeking her intercession in all areas of their lives.
Dr Ryan Pustam