Five-day camp helps 25 young men learn to hear God’s call

By Colleen Boyle Sharp
Special to The CS&T

JAMISON – Where are you going? This is the question that was posed to the 25 young men who participated in a unique summer camp sponsored by the Vocation Office for the Diocesan Priesthood.

Quo Vadis Days, Aug. 16-20, allowed young men of high school age the opportunity to pray and seek out God’s call for them while experiencing fun and fraternity with each other.

“Quo Vadis is a wonderful opportunity for young men,” said Father Christopher Rogers, director of the Vocation Office for Diocesan Priesthood. “The goal of this camp is not so much about getting guys to sign up for the priesthood but to expose them to a greater understanding of what it means to say yes to the Lord.”

The five-day camp, which took place at the Diamond Ridge Conference Center in Jamison, Bucks County, is an adaptation of a vocation program that began in 2000 in the Diocese of Portland, Ore.

“For the past three years we have hosted a one-day vocation program for sixth, seventh and eighth grade boys called ‘Brothers of Borromeo Day.’ We have gotten a good response but wanted to offer something more for high school young men. Quo Vadis seemed like the right fit,” Father Rogers said.

The camp has a spiritual structure that includes Morning Prayer, Mass, Eucharistic Adoration and Evening Prayer, but plenty of time was scheduled into the campers’ experience for hiking, swimming, ropes courses and other sports activities.

“I was not expecting this to be fun,” said 16-year-old Marcel Brice, a junior at Roman Catholic High School, after completing a high ropes challenge course. “I thought it was going to be prayer 24/7, but it’s not. There are a lot of team-building activities and I think the camp has helped me to get a better sense of myself and realize in order to succeed I’m going to need the help of others.”

Brice, who is a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in West Philadelphia, said that although he is interested in attending a military college upon graduating, the priesthood is one of the options he is also considering.

“Quo Vadis” is Latin for “Where are you going?” Legend has it that St. Peter asked the Lord this question as he passed Him on a road leaving Rome. Jesus, who was carrying a cross, answers Peter, “I’m going to Rome to be crucified again.” Through the Lord’s words Peter gains the courage to go back to Rome and continue his ministry.

Alexander Marshall, a member of St. Agnes Parish in Sellersville, said he hopes Quo Vadis will help him to see his way a little more clearly. “Sometimes it seems like I’m drawn to a married life, sometimes it seems like I’m drawn to a spiritual life and sometimes a single life. I’m hoping by attending Quo Vadis I’ll get a better idea of what path has been chosen for me,” he said.

Marshall, who recently moved here from Utah, said his mother suggested the camp after reading an advertisement in the parish bulletin. “I’ve really wanted to do something more or less like this for a while so I said why not. I looked at it as a chance to get to know others and to get to know myself too,” Marshall said.

“I am very excited by the number of guys that participated this year, Father Rogers said. “It’s a good foundation to build on, and most importantly I think it shows that young men are curious and looking for their vocation.”

“I’m encouraged because this is really a group of fine young men. I know that Quo Vadis will continue to grow as more priests, more parents and more young men become familiar with the camp.”

Colleen Boyle Sharp is a freelance writer and photographer, and a parishioner of St. Katherine of Siena in Philadelphia.