Diocesan Quo Vadis Days retreat builds on past successes

By Dave Jolivet
Anchor Editor


FALL RIVER, Mass. — Shortly before Christ made the supreme sacrifice for the Salvation of mankind, St. Peter asked, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later” (Jn 13:36).

“Later” did come for Peter and the Apostles and for countless of Jesus’ followers since. For more than 2,000 years the Lord has been calling His people to make His name known to the four ends of the earth, and to tell people His Good News of Salvation.

To assist young men in the Diocese of Fall River to cut through the daily clutter of a hectic life and to hear the call of Jesus, the diocesan Vocation Office is offering, for the eighth consecutive year, a Quo Vadis Days retreat, from July 10-14 at Betania II Retreat Center in Medway.

“The annual Quo Vadis retreat is a time of recreation, fellowship, prayer and discussion to help young men explore Our Lord’s call,” said Father Kevin A. Cook, diocesan director of Vocations and Seminarians. “Each year, young men from around the diocese gather for a week-long retreat where priests and seminarians of our diocese will be there providing conferences, Spiritual guidance and fraternity.”

The Quo Vadis experience originated in the Archdiocese of Portland, Ore., in the Jubilee Year 2000 by Father John Cihak. It was in response to St. Pope John Paul II’s request that the Church begin the “New Evangelization.”

“We can’t have a New Evangelization without a new generation of priests who will be heralds of the Gospel, heralds of the message of truth and love to the world,” said Father Cihak.

“The Lord in His love has a great and wonderful plan for all of us,” said Father Cook. “Jesus’ plan for some men is to be one of His priests. The priesthood is an indispensable, awesome and beautiful mission. Many of the Church’s greatest saints have been priests. Even though Jesus continues to call young men to this life, sometimes the world we live in makes it difficult to hear His call.”

The retreat allows young men to take the time to escape the distractions and listen, have fun, make friends, and develop or deepen their relationship with God.

Activities include prayer in the context of Holy Mass, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Liturgy of the Hours, the Rosary, and personal reflection. Talks and discussions are also an important part of the retreat.

While those activities nourish the soul and mind, other activities are meant for fun, exercise and fellowship, including hiking, swimming, flag football, soccer, ultimate Frisbee, and other entertaining happenings.

And none of these activities can be fully absorbed and enjoyed without great food.

Since its inception in Portland 17 years ago, the Quo Vadis experience has branched out to several dioceses across the U.S., including the Fall River Diocese.

Currently the retreat is offered annually in the dioceses of Boise, Idaho; Harrisburg, Penn.; Oakland, Calif.; Oklahoma City; Philadelphia; Pueblo, Colo.; Providence, R.I.; San Jose, Calif.; Seattle and Spokane, Wash.

The Quo Vadis website (qvdays.org) said the retreat is to serve three purposes: “To seek more shepherds, to support the young men after camp, and to invite other dioceses throughout the country to respond to the New Evangelization and begin their own Quo Vadis Days.”

Included on the website is a quote from St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests and of the Quo Vadis Days: “The priest continues the work of redemption on earth. If we really understood the priest on earth, we would die not of fright but of love. The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.”

The importance of a young man experiencing a closer relationship with the Lord is vital in assisting him to ponder the age-old question, “Where are you going?”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once said, “Only when a young man has had a personal experience of Christ can he truly understand the Lord’s will and consequently his own vocation. The better you know Jesus the more His mystery attracts you. The more you discover Him, the more you are moved to seek Him.”

The website also offered some thoughts of young men who experienced the retreat:

— “Quo Vadis Days is one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. It has given me the opportunity to learn about the priesthood from people who have followed God’s call and lived as priests.”

— “I encourage anyone who wants to learn more about his faith to come and take part in this camp. It is fun and educational and one of the coolest camps I have been able to go on.”

— “I have been to Quo Vadis Days for three years, and as I reflect more and more on each year’s experience, I feel deeply grateful to Father Cihak and my God, calling me to ‘some definite service.’”

To learn more about the Fall River Diocese’s Quo Vadis Days retreat, contact Father Cook at frcook@holyfamilytaunton.org or call 508-824-5707.

To register online,visit fallrivervocations.org.

For more information on the Quo Vadis Days story, visit qvdays.org.

© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts