Young men and women discern their paths at Quo Vadis and Fiat Days

Seminarians carrying the statue of the Blessed Mother during the Rosary Procession.

By TAMI QUIGLEY Staff writer

Summer vacation for 51 young men and 37 young women of the Diocese of Allentown included attending “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.

The camps ran concurrently July 16-20 at DeSales University, Center Valley, both with the theme “Do Whatever He Tells You.”

This marked the fifth year for Quo Vadis and the fourth year for Fiat.

Quo Vadis and Fiat Days were open to young men and women ages 14 to 18, including the newly graduated. The event included time for personal and group prayer, Mass and other Catholic devotions, talks by priests and religious sisters, sports and other activities, in addition to interacting with seminarians and sisters of various religious communities.

Sister Rose Bernadette Mulligan, vocation directress of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM), Immaculata, coordinated Fiat Days.

Quo Vadis gave young men the chance to participate in activities rooted in prayer, catechesis, evangelization and mentoring.

Fiat Days were an opportunity for young women to spend a few days deepening their faith, interacting with religious sisters, and learning to discern God’s call in their lives and their vocation, whether religious/consecrated life, marriage or a dedicated single life in service to Christ and his church.

“This year’s camps set another record for the number of participants, which is a blessing but also a challenge for the staff to coordinate the activities and movements of 88 teenagers,” said Msgr. David James, director of the diocesan Office of Vocations. “The seminarians and sisters did an outstanding job of ‘going with the flow,’ which was different each day.”

“This year, our holy hours and Masses were enhanced by the musical talents of a number of the campers. A Quo Vadis camper played the organ, while two Fiat campers played the piano. A number also joined in an impromptu choir put together by seminarians Matt Kuna, Jeff Tomczyk and Zachary Wehr. The campers also brought their guitar, violin and the ukulele.

“The response of the young men and women to the holy hours is very impressive. The number of young people availing themselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation was also a good sign of the young people opening themselves to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

“While we were joined by many new participants this year, there is a strong core of young men and women who have participated in the past and are seriously considering a priestly vocation or a vocation to the consecrated life.”

Bishop-elect Alfred Schlert opened Quo Vadis and Fiat as main celebrant and homilist of an afternoon Mass July 16 in Connolly Chapel, followed by a barbecue dinner cook-out with participants, parents and their siblings at DeSales University Center. That evening boys and girls joined together for a Rosary Procession and Mary Crowning.

“Thank you for coming today and being with us this week,” Bishop-elect Schlert said welcoming campers and their families to the Mass, noting “we begin with the Holy Eucharist and pray the week may be fruitful for all.”

In his homily, Bishop-elect Schlert said the camps are “a tremendous way to be able to spend a number of days in summer.”

“This is not just a summer camp. It’s different because the Holy Spirit has called you,” he said. “It’s not a soccer or cheerleading camp … they’re all good too, but this is different because you’re called to discern your vocation to married or religious life.”

Bishop-elect said though participants were in high school it’s not too soon to think about these things, and thanked their parents and guardians for allowing them to come.

“We pray for them to find the vocation to which they are called.”

“We all have a vocation with certain talents to praise and serve God,” he said.

“The Holy Spirit is already at work,” Bishop-elect said, describing how appropriate the day’s Gospel from Matthew of a sower sowing seeds was for the camps, as Jesus speaks to those who make their living tilling the earth. Jesus, he said, speaks of seeds falling on shallow or rocky ground, among thorns or on fertile ground.

“At Quo Vadis and Fiat Days you are fertile ground. At your age your soul is willing and able to accept what God is saying and be receptive,” said Bishop-elect Schlert. “This week we’ll help you discern your vocation whatever that may be.”

“God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are at work this week sowing seeds,” he said, adding the soil needs nutrients. “All of us need to feed our souls with nutrients.”

Bishop-elect Schlert said there is the acid of sin in our souls, we fertilize our souls with the sacraments, especially Holy Communion and penance, as well as our prayer life and reading sacred Scripture and the teachings of the church. “This week you will be exposed to all of these things.”

“All of us need to commit ourselves to nourishing our souls – none of us are too old for that,” he said.

Bishop-elect Schlert thanked Msgr. David James, director of the diocesan Office of Vocations, for inviting him to celebrate the Mass, and noted it was the first event he has done as bishop-elect.

“One of my priorities for the diocese is to build a culture of vocations in which young men and women will consider a vocation to the priesthood and religious life, and that their families will support the seed planted in the child’s soul and heart.

Concelebrating were Msgr. James and Father Kevin Lonergan, assistant pastor of the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown. Deacon John Hutta assisted.

Lectors were Sister, Servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) Mary Jo Ely of the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, and seminarian Kevin Gembarksi, second college year student at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia. Cantor was seminarian Matthew Kuna, second year pre-theology student at St. Charles Borromeo.

Service projects were an important, interesting and fun part of the camps.

The young men made two visits to Holy Family Manor and Holy Family Villa for Priests, Bethlehem.

The young women also traveled to the manor and villa for a service project and visit.

Another afternoon they visited the Carmelite Monastery of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, “St. Therese’s Valley,” Coopersburg, for a service project.  The monastery is the convent of the Carmelite Nuns of the Ancient Observance (Calced Carmelites) (O.Carm.).

Msgr. James and Deacon John Hutta led an outdoor evening Stations of the Cross during the camps.

The combined activities of Quo Vadis and Fiat were the opening Mass and barbecue cook-out, daily Masses, holy hours, Rosary Procession and Mary Crowning, outdoor Stations of the Cross and shared meals for lunch and supper. Msgr. James presided at a holy hour with the talk “How to Go to Confession” for young men and women.

In addition, Scott and Kathleen Moynihan offered the talk “Fruit of Prayer: Marriage” to Quo Vadis and Fiat participants.

Celebrants of the daily Masses were: Father Kevin Bobbin, assistant pastor of Holy Infancy, Bethlehem; Father Lonergan; Father John Rother, assistant pastor of St. Catharine of Siena, Reading; and Father Keith Mathur, assistant pastor of Sacred Heart, West Reading and Holy Rosary, Reading, and director of the diocesan Offices of Divine Worship and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).

Clergy leading holy hours were Msgr. James; Father Allen Hoffa, administrator of St. Joseph, Summit Hill; and Deacon Hutta.

Priests available for confession at the holy hours were: Msgr. James; Father Lonergan; Father Daniel Kravatz, assistant pastor of St. Anne, Bethlehem; Father Anthony Mongiello, pastor of St. Anne, Bethlehem; and Father David Anthony, assistant pastor of St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Easton.

Msgr. James and seminarian Zachary Wehr, third year theology student at St. Charles Borromeo, welcomed the campers.

Sister Mary Jo Ely served as umpire for the Quo Vadis annual seminarian-camper softball game. This year Father Mark Searles, chaplain of Allentown Central Catholic High School (ACCHS), the seminarians and sisters squared off in a volleyball match.

Quo Vadis

Residents of Holy Family Manor enjoyed a July 18 afternoon visit from Quo Vadis participants and seminarians.

“It’s wonderful they spend time to entertain us. We need to be entertained all the time,” resident Clare Farrel said with a smile as she enjoyed participating in the “Rhythm Band” with seminarian Giuseppe Esposito, a third year theology student at St. Charles Borromeo.

Did she like the music? Yes. “You can get up and wiggle,” said Farrel, a 1945 graduate of ACCHS.

Farrel and Esposito bonded over the music and both knowing Father George Winne – assistant pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus, Allentown – who Farrel had previously met on a retreat.

“You go for a visit like this and you end up making friends. You wind up bonding,” said Esposito.

Favorite tunes were played as residents participated in the Holy Family Manor band.

Residents and the young men also enjoyed using the iN2L (It’s Never 2 Late) device, which Michael Melnic, CEO and CFO of Catholic Senior Housing and Health Care Services, Inc., described as “Dignity Through Technology.”

The large, interactive computer screen allows residents to participate in a sing-a-long, chair yoga and even a virtual trip to the French countryside, as well as segments on commercials with such questions as how much did a car from the 1950s cost. Families are encouraged to build an online scrapbook for their loved ones.

Melnic said so far the manor has two such devices, one purchased by the manor and one received through a diocesan Poverty Relief Fund Grant.

Other activities during the visit were Noodle Ball, a fast-paced game of hitting a ball with pool noodles; and Memory Magic, which is similar to bingo but uses words to stimulate cognition. It also uses fine motor (small movements) and gross motor (large movement) skills. It promotes social interaction while allowing residents the opportunity to reminisce.

Residents and their Quo Vadis visitors also enjoyed magnetic darts, a game of Penny Ante and an Oldie’s Music Quiz/Name That Tune.

Presentations offered during Quo Vadis were “How Does God Call?” Msgr. Francis Nave, pastor of Sacred Heart, Bath; “Do Whatever He Tells You,” Father Mark Searles; “Men’s Talk,” which presented the virtues active in the life of a young man committed to Christ, Father Adam Sedar, pastor of Most Blessed Sacrament, Bally; and “Obedience and Yes,” Father Christopher Butera, director of the Newman Center Catholic chaplain at Lehigh University, Bethlehem.

Also, “The Eucharist and the Seven Sorrows,” Father Allen Hoffa; and “Fruit of Prayer: Yes,” Father Daniel Kravatz.

Activities included morning prayer and night prayer, liturgy of the hours, rosary walk and fellowship.

The camp included small group meetings, Ultimate Frisbee, outdoor lawn games, indoor games, softball game and a water ice social.

Fiat Days

“Mary is a model for all women of every culture and age,” IHM Sister Rose Bernadette Mulligan said during “Mary, Our Model: Being a Christian Woman in Today’s Society,” a July 18 morning presentation at Fiat Days.

Each speaker offered a brief presentation with a theme on one aspect of Mary: IHM Sister Mary Jo Ely, “Mary, Woman of Compassion”; Daughters of Divine Zeal (FDZ) Sister Rose Mary Infanta, “Mary, Model of Vocations”; and Missionary Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (MSC) Sister Marie Raymond Gazo, “Mary in Reflective Life.”

Also, FDZ Sister Marietta Castellano, “Mary, Model of Faith”; IHM postulant Beth Bartholomew, “Mary, Woman of Prayer”; IHM postulant Christine Ann Zabel, “Mary’s Humility, Simplicity and Trust”; and Poor Sisters of St. Joseph (PSSJ) Sister Eloina Alvarez, “Mary as Servant of God.”

Zabel said Mary was not married but betrothed to Joseph when she learned she would be the mother of God – who would believe her?

“If God asks us to live a holy and virtuous life as a Christian woman, he will give us every grace to follow the way Mary did,” Zabel said. “Mary was the first follower of Christ.”

“I feel Mary is helping me a lot – I wasn’t sure what I was going to say to you,” said Sister Rose Mary. “She has come into my life and given me courage.”

“Mary comes to help and to serve,” said Sister Eloina. “If you love Jesus and Mary, you have to accept people as they are, as Jesus and Mary do.”

“Be open with God and prayer transforms our lives,” said Bartholomew. “Mary ponders things in her heart – she didn’t always understand what she’s supposed to do but she trusted God. Her trust was built on her love of God.”

Bartholomew added she likes to pray with the book “Praying with Mary” by Msgr. David Rosage.

Other presentations offered during Fiat Days were “Friending Jesus and Mary,” Sister Rose; “Do Whatever He Tells You,” Sister Mary Jo; “The Consecrated Life,” Sister Marietta; and “Fiat – Saying Yes, to God,” Sister Marie Raymond.

Activities included morning and night prayer, rosary walk and fellowship at the fire.

The camp included icebreaker activities, small group meetings, outdoor activity and community building, team building activity, sports and games, and a water ice social.