By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer

WYNNEWOOD – Prayer and play were the agenda of the day for nearly 120 sixth, seventh and eighth grade boys who attended the third annual Brothers of Borromeo Vocation Congress Tuesday, June 16, at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.

Sponsored by the archdiocesan Vocation Office for Diocesan Priesthood, the all-day assembly provides young men an opportunity to hear and consider the call of Christ to the diocesan priesthood.

“Kids should know that it’s not like, ‘Come, we’ll sign you up to become a priest,'” said John Balisse, 14, a graduate of St. Anastasia School in Newtown Square and incoming freshman at Archbishop John Carroll High School in Radnor.

Instead, he said, it’s about taking a look at the seminary and meeting some of the seminarians who study there. “It was a really relaxed environment,” added Balisse.

He enjoyed learning the vocation stories of the seminarians who described themselves as ordinary men who, in their spare time, like to play basketball and attend Phillies baseball games, among other extracurricular activities.

“I didn’t know priests and seminarians had that much fun,” said 12-year-old Thomas DiMarcantonio, who will be a seventh-grader at St. Anselm School in Philadelphia.

At the same time, the congress drove home to DiMarcantonio the importance of praying on one’s own time because “there’s more to life than just playing with your friends,” he said.

Father Christopher B. Rogers, director of the vocation office, described the day as a success. He is particularly pleased about the number of boys who continue to include the congress in their summer plans.

The boys had the opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation and to participate in a range of activities that included a scavenger hunt, pickup games of Frisbee, basketball and football, an obstacle course and an opportunity to dunk Father Rogers in a dunk tank.

They also made a rosary chaplet and prayed a decade of the rosary.

Auxiliary Bishop Daniel E. Thomas, who assists Cardinal Justin Rigali in overseeing the vocation office, served as principal celebrant at the morning Mass.

By attending the congress, the boys do not commit to future study at the seminary, but Father Rogers is confident that if God should will it, “someday, some of them will be the seminarians of tomorrow.”

For more information, contact Father Rogers at (610) 667-5778 or e-mail: Visit the vocation office web site at

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or