On June 26th through June 29th, 2017, 116 young men, from across the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, joined 48 Seminarians from Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, 12 Priests, 2 Permanent Deacons and 4 lay volunteers, all from local parishes, to find out how to set the World Ablaze!  If the radiant smiles, the joy and laughter and the new and renewed friendships were an indication of a fire burning, then Quo Vadis 2017 was a roaring success.

The Quo Vadis Retreat is sponsored annually by the Philadelphia Vocation Office for the Diocesan Priesthood, with the support of the Martin de Porres Foundation and the local Serra Club.  Quo Vadis is a Latin phrase meaning “Where are you going?” and has been attributed to what was said by Peter to the risen Jesus when he encountered Him as Peter was leaving Rome.

“Where are you Going? The young men, all current 8th-12th grade students, met at Blackrock Retreat Center in Quarryville, Pa, in Lancaster County, for a 4 day and 3-night retreat where the focus was Faith, Fun and Fellowship.   The Quo Vadis retreat, this year, represented the most diverse group of young men ever.  They were joined by an outstanding, energetic and enthusiastic group of Seminarians, who served as Team Leaders.  Each Team of retreatants and their Seminarian leaders participated in group activities and meals together.  This fostered a remarkable sense of group identity and competition that was clearly evident in the sports activities and the faith sharing.   Each day began with morning prayer and Mass. Then, on to breakfast and the daily activities which included vocation talks by a Seminarian, Priest or Deacon, small group sharing and fun.  The fun activities included swimming in the lake or the pool, a great water slide and water trampoline, basketball, soccer, and ultimate frisbee.  One evening featured a hilarious activity called bubble soccer where the participants were encased in inflated bubbles as they competed in a game of soccer.  As if all this wasn’t enough, the group spent an entire afternoon at Urban Air, an indoor trampoline park where they ran, jumped, catapulted and jousted their way to weariness.

On Wednesday evening, as we turned back to prayer, we were joined by Bishop Senior, the Rector of St Charles Borromeo Seminary, for a Eucharistic Procession, adoration and prayer.

Throughout the four days, there were opportunities for prayer, confessions, and intense discussions about what God is calling each young man to be.  It is hoped that, through this experience of being with men and young men who have recognized and responded to God’s call to a vocation of priestly life, that more young men would “Heed the

Quo Vadis and its related events like “Come & See Weekend” and Brothers of Borromeo Vocation Camp (B.B.V.C) are just a few of the opportunities available for young men to explore what God is calling them to.  As Father Steve DeLacy, the Archdiocesan Vocation Director has often said, “The goal is not to get all of them into the seminary, the goal is to get them all seeking what God’s will for them is,” For some that call may lead to the seminary.

Vocations to the priesthood and religious life are everyone’s responsibility.  This is especially true in our African American community, where it is so important that we foster the vocations of our young folks who will lead the Church for years to come.  Look around you; look around your Church.  Is there a young person who has the qualities of a priest, or religious person?  Pray for them!  Support their call!  Have them speak with your Pastor, who will get them in touch with Fr DeLacy.  We as a Church and community must support vocations. We need more priests!  Please pray for the success of the good work of the Vocations Office and Fr DeLacy and his team.  I ask that you also support the Seminary and its committees who are working hard to foster vocations.

For more information including a vocation survey and other resources to help discern a vocation, visit the website HeedtheCall.org.  If you have any questions about how you can help, call the Vocations Office at 610-667-5788, or Fr. Richard Owens in the Office for Black Catholics at 215-587-3541