Growing in holiness

First slide

Giving reason to be hopeful about the future of vocations in the church, more than 200 high school youths from the Arlington Diocese attended the Quo Vadis Days and Fiat Days discernment camps hosted by the Office of Vocations in late July. The two camps, running five days each at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., offer high school students guidance and time in prayer to discern their vocations, as well as classic summer camp activities like sports, hiking and making s'mores.

To accommodate demand, the Office of Vocations steadily has raised the number of spots for the camps. But even after another increase this year, both camps filled up and generated long waiting lists. Quo Vadis, the boys camp, filled up two weeks after registration opened in March and saw its waitlist grow to more than 50.

Quo Vadis Days offers the campers the chance to meet and interact with diocesan seminarians, who serve as group leaders and help run the camp. Anthony Storey, 16, a parishioner of St. John the Evangelist Church in Warrenton, cited his time with the seminarians as his favorite part of the five days, calling the seminarians "incredible examples of men rooted in Christ" who treated him as a brother.

Just as the young men of Quo Vadis get to know the diocese's seminarians, Fiat Days, the girls' camp, allows young women to spend time with religious sisters from the diocese and across the country. This year's Fiat Days was unprecedented, not only in its number of campers, but also in the number of sisters who participated, serving as emcees and group leaders and assisting with music, crafts and sports. Twenty sisters from 10 orders were a part of this year's camp.

Fifteen-year-old Natalie Poczatek, a parishioner of Our Lady of Angels Church in Woodbridge, appreciated the presence of the sisters. "Getting to know the sisters was amazing. Being able to hear their vocation stories and seeing their joy of being a sister inspires me to consider the possibility that maybe God could be calling me to the religious life," Poczatek said.

The theme of both camps was "Go Forth with Hearts on Fire," taking inspiration from Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde's recent pastoral letter by the same title. In addition to discussion of the priesthood, consecrated life and marriage, the campers heard talks on the universal call to holiness, Mary as the Mother of evangelization, and being evangelizers filled with the Holy Spirit.

Seventeen-year-old Lisa Foos, also a parishioner of Our Lady of Angels, found the talks helpful. "We all have an individual and unique mission in life, and although I already knew this, (the talks) helped me to really know it and believe it. They gave me a renewed purpose to pray and find my vocation."

Campers like Samuel McIlheran, a rising senior attending his final Quo Vadis camp, expressed that the camps helped deepen their faith and still hold value for those who aren't called to the priesthood or consecrated life.

"Even if you don't become a priest, you can still grow in holiness from attending Quo Vadis," he said. "Everyone needs this."

Graves is administrative assistant for promotions in the Vocations Office.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2014