Silence fell over the crowd of young adults Aug. 5 at St. Paul Seminary in Crafton when actress Nicole Abisinio said that the deepest longings of her heart were not satisfied by sharing film sets with Bill Murray, Robert De Niro and Justin Hartley, but by encountering the love of Jesus Christ.
Abisinio’s talk was part of “Revolutionary: Ignite Your Passion and Purpose in Christ,” a young adult conference hosted by the Vocations Office and tailored to helping young adults discover God’s will for their lives. More than 100 people attended the event, which also included Mass, a vocations fair, food trucks and a holy hour with worship music led by Mirella Brun del Re and Brendan Tobin.
“There is a great need to show people that vocation applies to everyone,” said Father Michael Ackerman, vocations director. “This event gave people the opportunity to see vocation expressed through the priesthood, religious life, marriage and ministries within the church.”
Abisinio, who founded Gabriel’s Messenger Ministries, abandoned her Catholic faith as a child and pursued acting. Her success took her to the red carpet of the Cannes Film Festival in France, where, though her dreams were being realized, she felt miserable.
This feeling of emptiness led her to a Protestant non-denominational church where a pastor said that the Roman soldiers tried to make Christ feel worthless during the crucifixion. Abisinio instantly recognized that feeling and experienced healing by uniting her pain to that of Christ on the cross. When she became gravely ill shortly afterward, a Catholic priest ministered to her, completing her conversion back to Catholicism.
“Sometimes you have to have literally everything taken away from you to realize that you don’t need anything but Jesus,” Abisinio said.
Father Nicholas Vaskov, diocesan executive director of communications, encouraged the young adults during Mass to be revolutionary by doing something new and good for God.
“God’s work in the hearts of his people is revolutionary. It renews their hearts and sets them on the path he wants them to take,” he said.
Nearly 20 religious orders and lay ministries comprised the vocations fair, including the Pittsburgh Religious Vocations Council, Renew the I Do, Catholic Men’s Fellowship and Catholic Women’s Fellowship.
Third Order Franciscan Sister Miriam O’Callaghan said that the energy at the event set her own faith on fire.
“I always find it uplifting to hear the stories of men and women discerning their vocation,” she said.
Attendee Steven Loucks, who is discerning a priestly vocation, said he was excited to gain more knowledge on the discernment process.
Cori and John McCulloch said they felt their marriage strengthened by the witness of those around them pursuing God’s call.
“Sometimes I forget that other people are waiting to find their vocation,” Emily Pino said. “It was good for me to be with other people who are discerning their vocation.”