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Indiana Summer Camp Brings Together Teenagers Considering Priesthood
Mike Krokos
Source: Catholic News Service
Published: Saturday, July 25, 2009
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TRAFALGAR, Ind. (CNS) -- It was a time to play. It was a time to pray.

But just as important, vocations summer camp in Indiana was an opportunity to bring together teenage boys in middle school and high school who are open to the idea God might be calling them to the priesthood.

"It shows me that I'm not alone in this world, that others want to (consider the priesthood)," said Nick Porter, 15, who will begin attending Cardinal Ritter Junior/Senior High School in Indianapolis in the fall. Porter said he became interested in the priesthood in the fourth grade.

He was one of 58 boys who attended the fourth annual Bishop Brute Days held recently near Trafalgar, a small town about 30 miles south of Indianapolis.

The camp, sponsored by Bishop Simon Brute Seminary in Indianapolis, allows teenagers considering priestly vocations to spend time among like-minded peers.

Archdiocesan priests gave presentations on the faith, celebrated Mass, heard confessions and presided at Benediction. Meals were provided by the Knights of Columbus and the Indianapolis Serra Club.

The camp was staffed largely by seminarians, who served as counselors and mentors to the teenagers. They also took part in canoeing and other outdoor activities and offered advice as campers tackled an obstacle course and played dodge ball and other games.

"Part of the work of a seminarian is to find more seminarians," said Martin Rodriguez, a seminarian who recently completed his coursework at Bishop Brute Seminary, "and I think with the youths there is a lot people who are called to be a priest, but sometimes they are isolated in their own parishes and they don't know there are other guys thinking about this stuff."

Seeing the teenagers offered a "good refresher" on how God worked in his life, added Rodriguez, who is continuing his priestly studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

"These guys have their own story, and each story enriches mine," he told The Criterion, newspaper of the Indianapolis Archdiocese. "When I see them, I see myself at this age, and how I started discerning."

Father Robert Robeson, rector of Bishop Brute Seminary, said he believes there is a growing interest among teenage boys in the possibility of pursuing priestly vocations.
But having an interest is only the starting point, he said.

"I think that the first thing you've got to work on with young people before you can really start talking about priesthood or vocation is the call to holiness and the conversion of life," Father Robeson said, "and trying to deepen your love for Christ, deepen that day-to-day appreciation for the Eucharist and Mary and the teachings of the church."

Some of the campers have developed such strong vocational interests that they attend the camp multiple times.

Derrick Roll, 14, came back to the retreat and camplike atmosphere for a second straight year to continue discerning whether a calling to the priesthood will be a part of his future.

He said his parents, particularly his father, have been very supportive.

"(My dad) just feels like God is pointing me in the direction to be a priest," Derrick said. "He tries to encourage me every chance he can."

While family can play a key role in helping young people discern their vocation, being around like-minded teens also can be a positive thing, Father Robeson stated.

"God calls each person in a very different way, but the important thing is to connect them with (like-minded) kids," he said. "This retreat demonstrates to them that there are many other young men who are thinking (about the priesthood) and open in the same way."

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