By TAMI QUIGLEY Staff writer
“Quo Vadis” is a Latin phrase meaning “Where are you going?” In the Diocese of Allentown, the Quo Vadis vocation event held each summer for the past four years helps discerning young men do just that.
Quo Vadis is for young men, incoming freshmen to rising seniors, to participate in activities rooted in prayer, catechesis, evangelization and mentoring.
Last July, 49 young men and 27 young women of the Diocese of Allentown attended Quo Vadis (for young men) and “Fiat” (for young women) vocation camps sponsored by the diocesan Office of Vocations in conjunction with the St. Andrew Committee.
Four current seminarians in the Diocese of Allentown are alumni of Quo Vadis in the Diocese of Allentown or the camp offered by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. All are attending St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia.
New seminarians Keaton Eidle, parishioner of St. Ignatius Loyola, Sinking Spring, attended Quo Vadis in the archdiocese, and Aaron Scheidel, parishioner of St. Benedict, Mohnton, attended in Allentown. Both are in their first college year.
Alexander Brown, son of Randolph Brown and Deirdre Sweeney-Brown and parishioner of Holy Family, Nazareth, and Miguel Ramirez, parishioner of St. Peter the Apostle, Reading, are seminarians in their second college year who attended Quo Vadis in Allentown.
Father Daniel Kravatz, assistant pastor of St. Anne, Bethlehem, who was ordained in 2014, attended the Harrisburg Quo Vadis while a college student at Millersville University in the Diocese of Harrisburg.
“It is amazing to me that in just four short years that the diocese has conducted Quo Vadis that we have gained four seminarians from among the participants,” said Msgr. David James, director of the Office of Vocations.
“Besides offering the time for the young men to pray, I believe its success is grounded in the interaction between the campers and the seminarians. The seminarians are very joyful in the discernment of their own vocations and they share that with the campers. A joyful priest or seminarian really is the best ‘advertisement’ to promote vocations.”
Last year marked the fourth year for Quo Vadis in the diocese. Attendance at the camp totaled 15 in 2013, 20 in 2014, 21 in 2015 and 49 in 2016.
“I guess you could say that going to Quo Vadis helped me along in my discernment by letting me meet seminarians,” said Eidle, son of Rob and Andrea Eidle.
“Up until that point I had seen but not met any seminarians. It was a great experience that taught me a lot about what the priesthood is and also about how to get there. I had already been thinking seriously about the priesthood, but Quo Vadis was one of the many experiences that helped me to solidify that interest, in being a priest, into a desire,” said Eidle.
“I went to Quo Vadis three years ago,” said Scheidel, son of Adam and Rebecca Scheidel.
“Quo Vadis really helped me to see the seminarians and priests in a setting that was more laid back. Before then I had only seen priests at church and in more formal settings. As for the reunion, I thought it was very nice to see the guys again and I thought that it was a very nice event overall.”
Ramirez, son of Miguel Ramirez and Odelina Espinoza, attended Quo Vadis three or four times.
“Being at Quo Vadis transforms my life there – I truly listen to the Lord’s voice calling me to be a priest,” Ramirez said.
“Like you plug a cell phone to the wall, it was the same thing for me – it was a deeper connection with Jesus. I feel that the Lord opened for me a door full of blessings in my life. The path where Jesus took me allows me to truly understand my path to the priesthood.”
“I attended a Quo Vadis retreat in July 2007 with the Diocese of Harrisburg,” said Father Kravatz. “At that time, I was looking for graduate schools – it was the summer between my junior and senior years in college – but there was a sense that God may be calling me to the priesthood.”
Father Kravatz is the son of Daniel and Jennifer Kravatz, and his home parish is St. Catharine of Siena, Reading.
Father Kravatz said the campus minister at Millersville, Father David Hereshko, had invited him earlier in the year to attend the retreat.
“I finally decided to go after realizing I couldn't ignore the call any more. While I was there, all of the talks, time for prayer, and my conversations with the priests and seminarians gave me some clarity that I needed to discern this call further.”
Father Kravatz recalled that Father Michael Mullins – the director of vocations for the Diocese of Allentown at the time and now pastor of St. Paul, Allentown – was coming to visit a friend of Father Kravatz’s who was also on the retreat and had previously been accepted into the seminary. “So when he came up I asked him for an application.”