Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
March 15, 2010
Teens considering priesthood play and pray
Vocations summer camp allows youth fellowship, discernment
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
TRAFALGAR, IND. - It was a time to play. It was a time to pray.
But just as important, vocations summer camp in Indiana was an opportunity to bring together teenage boys in middle school and high school who are open to the idea God might be calling them to the priesthood.
"It shows me that I'm not alone in this world, that others want to (consider the priesthood)," said Nick Porter, 15. Porter said he became interested in the priesthood in the fourth grade.
He was one of 58 boys who attended the fourth annual Bishop Brute Days held last summer near Trafalgar, a small town about 50 km south of Indianapolis.
The camp, sponsored by Bishop Simon Brute Seminary in Indianapolis, allows teenagers considering priestly vocations to spend time among like-minded peers.
Archdiocesan priests gave presentations on the faith, celebrated Mass, heard Confessions and presided at Benediction. The Knights of Columbus and the Indianapolis Serra Club provided meals.
The camp was staffed largely by seminarians who served as counsellors and mentors to the teenagers. They also took part in canoeing and other outdoor activities and offered advice as campers tackled an obstacle course and played dodge ball and other games.
"Part of the work of a seminarian is to find more seminarians," said Martin Rodriguez, a seminarian, "and I think with the youths there is a lot of people who are called to be a priest, but sometimes they are isolated in their own parishes and they don't know there are other guys thinking about this stuff."
Seeing the teenagers offered a "good refresher" on how God worked in his life, added Rodriguez, who is continuing his priestly studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
"These guys have their own story, and each story enriches mine," he said in an interview. "When I see them, I see myself at this age, and how I started discerning."
Father Robert Robeson, rector of Bishop Brute Seminary, said he believes there is a growing interest among teenage boys in the possibility of pursuing priestly vocations.
But having an interest is only the starting point, he said.
CALL TO HOLINESS
"I think that the first thing you've got to work on with young people before you can really start talking about priesthood or vocation is the call to holiness and the conversion of life," Robeson said, "and trying to deepen your love for Christ, deepen that day-to-day appreciation for the Eucharist and Mary and the teachings of the Church."
Some campers developed such strong vocational interests they attend the camp multiple times. Derrick Roll, 14, came back to the retreat and camp-like atmosphere for a second straight year to continue discerning whether a calling to the priesthood may be part of his future.
He said his parents, particularly his father, have been very supportive.
"(My dad) just feels like God is pointing me in the direction to be a priest," Derrick said. "He tries to encourage me every chance he can."
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