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[Editor's note: Since this story was originally published, the date for the Sts. Mary and Martha Dinner for High School Young Women has been changed to May 7, 2018. The time, location and rsvp information remain the same.]
BRAINTREE -- An upcoming dinner sponsored by the Archdiocese of Boston's Vocation Office and Archdiocesan Delegate for Religious Sister Marian Batho will offer young women discerning their vocation a chance to learn more about religious life from those already living it.
Open to high school girls, the inaugural Sts. Martha and Mary Dinner, to be held March 6, will provide a time for food, prayer, and conversations with religious sisters and Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley in a relaxed setting. Witness talks will be given by the sisters, providing insight into the vocation of religious life.
The dinner is modeled after the archdiocese's St. Andrew Dinner program, which bring together young men to discuss the priestly life with seminarians, priests, and Cardinal O'Malley.
The St. Andrew Dinners, which take place three to four times a year, are a "longstanding tradition" in the archdiocese, Vocation Office director Father Dan Hennessy told The Pilot, Jan. 20.
The dinners have been considered useful in helping young men discern their vocations, said Father Hennessy, and their success helped spark the idea for the Sts. Martha and Mary Dinner.
While the idea for a dinner specifically for young women had been under consideration for some time, the office decided to organize one this year after a group of high school girls contacted the office to ask after such a dinner, explained Father Hennessy.
While the dinner is still several weeks away, Father Hennessy said it has already garnered interest and he is optimistic about attendance.
"I wouldn't be surprised if we had somewhere in the order of 80 or 90 or 100, over 100, participants," he said.
"There's actually a lot more interest in religious life for young women than a lot of people might imagine," he added.
Sister Marian, speaking to The Pilot Jan. 11, noted a "kind of reawakening" of vocation awareness in the archdiocese, and indicated that she believes the upcoming dinner could help young women better discern their vocation.
"I think certainly all the research indicates that perhaps in middle school (and) high school, men and women begin to think about what it is I want to do with my life, and some of these men and women hear God calling them to service in the Church," she said.
Based on an evaluation after the dinner, there is the potential for a "regular cycle" of Sts. Martha and Mary Dinners, much like the St. Andrew Dinners, Sister Marian explained.
The inaugural dinner Sts. Martha and Mary Dinner will be held at St. Mary Parish in Brookline, March 6, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Those interested in attending are invited to contact Father Hennessy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-746-5969.