Quo Vadis Days retreat offers young men
‘a taste of the top of the world’

By Dave Jolivet
Anchor Editor

MEDWAY, Mass. — As the dove flies, Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire is about 5,500 miles from Mount Tabor which rises near the Sea of Galilee in Israel.

While the two peaks are worlds apart, there is a similarity between them. Mount Tabor is purportedly where Jesus took the Apostles Peter, James and John, and was transfigured before their eyes, revealing Christ’s Sacred Divinity.

So overwhelmed by the experience, Peter told Jesus, “Lord, how good that we are here” (Mt 17:4).

Young men who have attended the annual Diocese of Fall River’s Quo Vadis Days retreat got the opportunity to ascend Mount Monadnock and many also have an experience that touches the soul — looking out over “God’s country,” witnessing the glory of nature from high above.

This year, young men in the diocese are again offered that opportunity along with many other faith-building activities at the Quo Vadis Days retreat to be held on the grounds of the beautiful Betannia II Retreat Center in Medway, from July 9-13.

Quo Vadis Days is a great experience for boys entering high school to entering college,” Father Kevin A. Cook, diocesan director of Vocations and Seminarians told The Anchor. “The week has so many great experiences that help the young men to grow in their faith, build friendships with other young men who are striving to live their faith, and learn what one should do to discern one’s vocation.”

This year’s retreat is the ninth consecutive year the diocesan Vocations Office has hosted the event. “Every year I find the boys find it a fun week and leave the week with a great understanding and openness to discerning what God may be calling him to,” added Father Cook.

The five-day retreat, in addition to allowing young men to escape the busyness of day-to-day routines, offers them a time of recreation, fellowship, prayer, and discernment as they explore God’s individual call in their lives.


The retreat offers attendees the chance to listen to priests, seminarians and others tell the stories of their faith journeys thus far.

Spiritually, activities include Holy Mass, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Liturgy of the Hours, and praying the Rosary. The trip to Mount Monadnock can be included in the faith aspect, as well as the recreational phase of the retreat.

Recreation-wise, in addition to the mountain hike, the young men have the opportunity to play flag football, volleyball, ultimate Frisbee, capture the flag, and other games, including a soccer match with Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V.

Father Cook lamented to The Anchor the fact that the bishop’s team was victorious last year. With an edge of “trash talk,” Father Cook practically guaranteed the bishop’s squad would come up short: “Last year his [Bishop da Cunha’s] team won it — they won’t this year.”

On a more serious note, the bishop will also celebrate Mass for the men and give a presentation on vocations.

“Every day we have time of prayer, Adoration, Mass, Rosary, a chance for Confession, talks on different aspects of living one’s faith, witness of different vocations, sports, time of building fraternity with others, hang out with the seminarians, and have some great meals,” said Father Cook.

John-Paul Martin attended last year’s retreat and is expecting to attend this year, and “for as long as I can after that.”

He told The Anchor, “When my parents told me that I was going to go to a camp for vocations, my first thought was that I would have to spend hours listening to people talk about priesthood, and why I should become a priest.  Because of this, I honestly wouldn’t have gone if I hadn’t known that a friend of mine was going.  However, I am genuinely glad that I did.  

“There weren’t just speeches the whole time like I thought, there was a great mix of talks, prayer, and activities, which included hiking, manhunt, glow-in-the-dark capture the flag, and of course, a pig roast! It was a great week of making friends and having fun. Our faith life doesn’t have to be boring! If there is anyone out there who is thinking of going, I really believe that they should go, it is the highlight of my summer. I really hope that we can get some more new faces this year!”

The Quo Vadis experience, which takes place nation-wide, originated in the Archdiocese of Portland, Ore. in 2000 by Father John Cihak. “It was in response to St. Pope John Paul II’s request that the Church begin the ‘New Evangelization,’” said Father Cihak.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once said, “Only when a young man has had a personal experience of Christ, 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.”

In Matthew’s Gospel account of the transfiguration, he tells the reader that Peter, with his soul so filled with wonder, offered to the Lord that they “put up three shelters — one for You, one for Moses and one for Elijah” (Mt 17:4).

The young men attending this year’s Quo Vadis Days retreat may not be inspired to erect three shelters on Mount Monadnock, but there’s a good chance, engulfed by the beauty that will surround them on the mountain side, they may hear God calling them to great things.

For more information about the upcoming Quo Vadis Days retreat, or to register, contact Father Cook at frcook@holyfamilytaunton.org, or call 508-825-5707.

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

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