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On a Firm Foundation


Aumack-Mary_thumbnailBy Mary Quilici Aumack
Executive Director, The Catholic Community Foundation

The gift of vocations in my life…

Recently I have attended two celebrations for a quarter of a century of ordained ministry. One was for my good friend Father Jon Pedigo, and the other for my pastor Father Rick Rodoni, whom I first met when I was 7. I sadly missed a celebration of 50 years for the passionate, ever justice–seeking Monsignor John Sandersfeld.

I write a lot about gratitude. My life is filled with things for which to be deeply grateful: my family, my personal relationship with God, my work, my parish community, my “other family.”

Woven throughout this rich life that is mine, is the gift of vocations. A vocation is, in essence, a call, that to which God calls us. Everyone is called by God to know, love and serve him. The difference is how each one does this.

We often think of vocations as synonymous with priestly and religious life. Many with these vocations have influenced me greatly. The first priest in my memory was Monsignor Ronald Mentasti. He was the longtime pastor of St. Justin, where I attended grammar school. He was famous (or infamous) for his New Year’s Day Sermon (he never used the word homily): “Life is short. Death is certain. Hell is forever. Think it over.” Those words belie a kind, gregarious man, who viewed us all as his family, and shepherded us tirelessly. Also in the mix in my younger years were Fathers Dan Derry and Terry Sullivan, whom I have been fortunate to know also as an adult, and who provide leadership and example today.

Through grammar school, high school, and at my parish I have had the influence, support and friendship of the Dominican, Notre Dame and Holy Names Sisters. Some of these are great friends. It is only as an adult that I have come to fully appreciate these educated, community centered, strong, prayerful women who helped form me.

At Gonzaga and Santa Clara, I have had the gift of relationship with the Jesuits. These men challenged us to be for others, and to live our call as members of the Body of Christ.

Through my work I am blessed to engage with many priests and religious of the Diocese. These encounters and relationships are valuable to me on so many levels: business, education, spirituality, vision, hope.

Marriage is also an important Catholic vocation. Doug and I went to a wedding last fall where Father Rick talked about that. Perhaps the greatest example of faithful vocation in my life was the marriage of my parents, Aldo and Nonie Quilici. Theirs was a relationship based on deep love and enduring faith. Their union was not perfect. Nonetheless they created a safe, nurturing environment for the six of us, providing for us in times of economic uncertainty. Together they supported our family and our parish. They were a FORCE at Notre Dame High School for 10 years.

Frederick Buechner said, “The place God calls you to, is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

So, in celebrating Fathers Jon Pedigo and Rick Rodoni, and Monsignor John Sandersfeld, I also give thanks with great joy for my parents, Mother Margaret Mary, Sister Gemma, Sister Joan, Sister Rosalie, Sister Nicki, Father Tony, Father Steckler, Father Peter, Father Michael, Monsignor Browne, Father Brendan, Father Warwick, Monsignor Fran, Bishops Daly, DuMaine and McGrath, and the many pastors, priests, sisters and brothers who have been trusted companions on my faith journey.

Please pray for all who have answered God’s call in a variety of vocations, lay and ordained.

At the Foundation we talk a lot about remembering and supporting ministry. One easy thing is simply to remember how the vocations of others have been great gifts to you. Perhaps returning the gift may be part of your legacy plan. We can help.

For more information regarding the Catholic Community Foundation of Santa Clara County visit, cfoscc.org.