By TARA CONNOLLY Staff writer
The Blessed Mother and the archangels St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael guided 91 young men and women discerning their life’s path July 14-18 during 2019 Quo Vadis and Fiat Days at DeSales University, Center Valley.
The five-day event, sponsored by Diocesan Office of Vocations, kicked off with Mass celebrated by Father Mark Searles, director of the Diocesan Office for Vocations Promotion.
“The noise of this world can so easily distract us from God's voice and his holy will for us, but we must be faithful to him in every circumstance and we must prepare and pray for the inner strength and the grace to make good and healthy choices,” said Father Searles.
“That is why Quo Vadis and Fiat are so important and a beautiful sign of life and the Holy Spirit guiding the Church. Even when the enemy is attacking the sources of life in this world, most especially the family and the Church, life-giving love is the heart of every vocation, and the grace and power of our Lord Jesus Christ and his presence in the most holy Eucharist is far more powerful than the evil that we see and hear around us.
“God’s mercy is more powerful than sin and evil. And that is why God has called about 100 young people to encounter here this week at Fiat and Quo Vadis.”
The week featured talks by Bishop of Allentown Alfred Schlert, diocesan seminarians, diocesan priests and a team of women religious from the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Mary, Missionary Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and Daughters of the Divine Zeal.
In addition, there was time for personal and group prayer, Mass and other Catholic devotions, campfires, and recreational sports.
Father Allen Hoffa, pastor of St. Joseph, Summit Hill, offered the talk “Reconciliation, Breaking the Barriers to Sainthood” and discussed the realities blocking the young men from sainthood.
“When you think about who we are called to be as Catholic men – we look to St. Michael the Archangel and in our battle against evil,” he said.
“Satan is constantly pulling us away from what God wants for us. Satan does not want you to have a relationship with God. Satan doesn’t want you to have any of the good stuff. He will break down every opportunity for us to have a good relationship with God, and St. Michael can help us in that battle.”
While speaking about St. Raphael, who is associated with healing, Father Hoffa said healing begins with confession.
“When we go to confession, we say ‘Lord, here is my heart. It is really messed up, full of scars and beaten up.’ What the Lord does through priests is that he heals the heart so we can go out and love completely,” said Father Hoffa.
In 2019, he said, the most confessed sin was impurity.
“The more it stays a secret – the more it can’t be healed, and then you will be unable to be the man God is calling you to be,” said Father Hoffa.
“Healing is an opportunity to step up – whether for yourself or for someone else – that’s what the saints did. What the saints did is that they got knowledgeable of others’ sins and they stepped up. You may be the saint someone needs to help them heal.”
As for St. Gabriel, who is found in the story of the Annunciation, where he appears to Zechariah and the Virgin Mary, foretelling the births of John the Baptist and Jesus, Father Hoffa said sharing the Good News with others is a quality of a saint.
Other talks presented for the young men were “Called to be Saints” by seminarians Phillip Maas and Matthew Kuna; and “Holy Orders, a Path to Sainthood” by Father Jared Zambelli, assistant pastor of St. Peter the Apostle, Reading.
Bishop Schlert presented “The Diocese of Allentown, a History and Church Built by Saints,” for both young men and women.
During Fiat Days, Sister Lisa Valentini presented “Qualities of a Saint in the Making,” while playing her guitar and singing Marian songs intermittently for 50 young women discerning their vocation in life.
“Just because you are a saint in the making – doesn’t mean it will be easy. Temptation is coming your way. You need something to fall back on when you are down and sad,” she told the young women.
She also advised them that some of the qualities in becoming a saint involve looking to the Blessed Mother as a role model, listening, keeping an open heart, and looking to be of service to others – especially the most neglected, the most forgotten and the most undesirable.
“A saint in the making strives to do what is good for others. We look out for our friends. It’s not easy to see a friend go down the wrong path – especially at your age – but we must help them and point them toward God,” said Sister Lisa.
“We need the help of God. We need to go to Mass. We need to be part of the life of the Church.”
In addition, she encouraged the young women to have friends that are “better than them” because they can “drag them up.”
“Sometimes friends can take you down and put things in your mind and heart that shouldn’t be there. But if you know you are the apple of God’s eye – he can help you make the right choices,” said Sister Lisa.
“It’s not something to be afraid of – God always want to shower us with his love. Now you have it. What are you going to do with it,” she asked the young women.
Other talks included “Called to be Saints” by Sister Marietta Castellano; “Vocation Tips from Saints” by Sister Elizabeth Bartholomew; and “Going Forth with the Saints – Our Intercessors” by Sister Mary Jo Ely.
Quo Vadis and Fiat Days also included a pilgrimage to Most Blessed Sacrament, Bally, which was founded in 1741 and is the third oldest Catholic Church in Pennsylvania.
For more information, contact Father Searles in the Office for Vocations Promotion, 610-437-0755 ext. 199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.