Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington



From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302


Quo Vadis camp encourages discernment of vocations to priesthood

by Jeff Lewis, for the Inland Register

(From the July 31, 2008 edition of the Inland Register)

Seminarian Jeff Core (center) explains the finer points of outdoor dining as seminarian Jason Hiner (left) looks on. (IR photos courtesy of Jeff Lewis)

Rarely has vocations promotion been so much fun. And exhausting. But fun or exhausting (or both), this summer’s diocesan vocations retreat camp, Quo Vadis Days, was certainly rewarding – for the priests and seminarians involved in putting it on, as well as for the young men who attended this summer’s camp.

Our efforts in planning and putting on Quo Vadis began last March. Father Darrin Connall, the vocations director for the Spokane Diocese, asked seminarian Jason Hiner to organize the event, and asked seminarian Tyler Smedley and myself to front promotion efforts. Jason immediately set himself to work at finding a campground location for our use, organizing meal arrangements, scheduling the conference talks with various priests of our diocese, and other related work. Tyler and I set to work at scheduling school and parish visitations to promote vocations in general and, more specifically, the retreat camp itself.

Fast forward 10 weeks or so. Camp preparation is complete. Our promotion visitations are complete. We’ve got but two weeks before camp is supposed to start – and only four registration forms have come in: three from the Yakima Diocese, just one from Spokane.

Fighting to dispel our every inclination to plummet into panic mode, we seminarians met with Father Connall to discuss what more we can do. But we could think of only one thing: pray, and pray mightily. And mightily pray, we did. We prayed for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and Religious life, for an increase in young men’s interest in the seminary, and especially for an increase in registration forms so that putting on this summer’s retreat camp would be worthwhile.

Right: campers Benji Capetillo, Marcos Hernandez, Matthew Camp, and James Powers.

In the two weeks that followed between our final meeting and the start of camp, our meager list of four registered campers increased to over 30. Nearly 20 came from Spokane, 10 from Yakima, and one from Coeur d’Alene, in the Boise Diocese. The sudden influx in registrations became such that our volunteer meal chief, seminarian Jeff Core, began to panic when his perfectly-planned meal preparations began to look not-so-perfectly-planned in the face of so many unplanned campers. But an increase in participants was a good problem to have.

On Monday, June 30, camp began at Pinelow Campground and Recreation Center on Deer Lake. Just after noon, parents came rolling along in droves, gleefully dropping off their sons and trusting them to our care for four days of fun and discernment. Staying at Pinelow the camp counselors were Jason, Tyler, Jeff Core, myself, and Father James Peak, parochial vicar of St. Thomas More Parish.

We had Mass each day, as well as Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Night Prayer, from the Liturgy of the Hours. Every night before Night Prayer, we had Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Priests visited us Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings, giving campers the opportunity for Reconciliation and spiritual direction, and also presenting talks on a variety of subjects related to vocation discernment. Father Peak talked about his story, which began during his time in the United States military. Other priests, as well as seminarians, shared their vocation journey.

But a summer camp would hardly be a summer camp without outdoor activities like swimming, soccer, Frisbee, and capture the flag. And of course, we stuffed ourselves with the obligatory S’more snacks around the campfire, loading the boys with all kinds of sugar and snacks just in time to send them back home to mom and dad.

But best of all, everyone had fun and found the Quo Vadis experience rewarding and helpful in discerning the vocation to the priesthood. Does this mean that we’ll be doing it again next summer? It sure does! Send your sons our way for a week next summer, and their friends and relatives, too. The more the merrier at Spokane’s Quo Vadis Days.

(Jeff Lewis is a Spokane Diocese seminarian now studying theology at the Theological College at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.)


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