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Days of discovery
Quo Vadis Days discernment camp helps young men find their life path. Click on headline for story and more photos.
“Where am I going? What am I meant to be?”
This two-pronged question surges in the minds of young people, but often is ignored because it is not an easy question to answer and causes discomfort. Eighty-nine young men gathered late last month at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., to face the question.
The young men embarked on Quo Vadis Days (Latin for “where are you going?”), a five-day summer discernment camp sponsored by the Arlington diocesan Office of Vocations. The first act was to trek up the side of Mary’s Mountain. There, in the “Glass Chapel” of the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, camp began with Mass celebrated by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde.
The young men came from parishes across the diocese and from families of varying backgrounds. For about two-thirds of them, this was their first time at the camp. For other’s it was the second, third or even fourth visit.
This year’s camp theme was “Giving Thanks to the Father.” Throughout the week the young men heard various talks on that subject. They learned to give thanks both through eucharistic adoration and personal prayer, as well as through tournament sports, such as basketball, soccer, arm wrestling, chess, Ping-Pong and pool.
The question of God’s plan for each life remained paramount. As the week progressed, Father Brian Bashista, director of the Office of Vocations, along with seminarians and invited speakers, continually encouraged the young men to take that question seriously, and to remain open to whatever the Lord might ask of each of them.
The days began with the Liturgy of the Hours, then time for eucharistic adoration, confession and Mass. During the Holy Hours, the diocese’s newly ordained transitional deacons offered reflections on God’s fatherly care and our need to respond promptly, willingly and lovingly. The necessity of cultivating a manly life of virtue was highlighted in the reflections and in the talks throughout the day. Afterward, there was a period of silence, essential for being able to listen to God’s voice.
Besides having time to go to confession, the young men had the opportunity to talk to a priest about the questions and concerns in their lives, or simply to read and quietly reflect.
After their mornings of quiet prayer, the men turned their energies to tournaments. In addition to these, the entire group participated in a water-balloon battle with giant launchers and extra points for hitting one of the seminarians or priests. There also was an exciting variant of capture the flag known as “potato salad,” in which more than 80 colored potatoes were used, and an annual softball game against the seminarians. The seminarians remained the defending champions.
The week culminated in a candlelight procession in honor of Our Lady and a vocationally themed Stations of the Cross, highlights for many of the young men. As they processed through campus sending up Marian hymns filled with the fruits of their prayers and strengthened by the fraternal bonds they had formed, one could not help but marvel at the action of grace.
Rampino and Bergida are seminarians for the Arlington Diocese.