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Faith and brotherhood at Quo Vadis

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What are you doing after graduation? Where do you want to go to college? What do you want to study? What kind of job are you looking for?


High schoolers have a lot to figure out about their future. Each summer, the diocesan Office of Vocations helps young men explore their vocation at Quo Vadis, a five-day camp held July 11-15 this year at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. In Latin, “quo vadis” means where are you going? Though in past years, more than 100 teens have attended, this year due to pandemic limitations only around 40 were able to attend.


Camp began with Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrating Sunday Mass for the attendees and seminarian leaders. Throughout the week, speakers visited to talk about the priesthood, religious life and marriage. Campers prayed the rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Liturgy of the Hours. They played pool, foosball, chess, capture the flag, flag football and soccer featuring the highly anticipated campers versus seminarians soccer game. The seminarians won, 6-1.


At the start of the camp, William Copley, 15, a parishioner of St. Philip Church in Falls Church, knew no one, but that changed quickly during a soccer game. “There was so much brotherhood among all the guys,” said Copley, who attended Quo Vadis once before.


He enjoyed the competition but also the focus on learning how to pray and the encouragement to commit to daily prayer. Back at home, he uses that daily half hour of prayer before he goes to bed in part to discern his vocation. “(Quo Vadis) taught me how to pray for (my vocation) and what to do, and not to be worried if I don’t hear something because (God’s) always telling me,” said Copley. “It's really just up to me if I want to hear, and to not be afraid.”


Deacon Daniel Rice has attended the past six camps as a seminarian. He loves the sports, the time for prayer and the sense of community. “It's amazing to see from day one, a bunch of strangers in a small group, maybe a few of them asking questions or daring a comment here or there, to Wednesday when people are willing to go really deep in discussion and are laughing and joking with each other as we go from one activity to the next, and even sharing about their prayer and what the Lord’s been doing in their lives this week,” he said.


Attending over the years has shown Deacon Rice the importance of sharing the faith. “Sometimes there can be a fear or temptation that if you’re too all about Jesus, you might scare young people away,” he said. But he’s seen the opposite at Quo Vadis. “They're willing to jump into the prayer,” he said. “They love it and dive in and really have profound insights and experiences and are happy about it and want to bring it home.”


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021