Tenth annual Quo Vadis Days
discernment retreat slated for July 8


MEDWAY, 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).

That passage is the essence of the Quo Vadis Days retreat, whose name is derived from the Latin phrase for “where are you going?”

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For the past nine years, young men have attended the annual Diocese of Fall River’s Quo Vadis Days retreat and have had the opportunity to ascend Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire. While that excursion is often cited as a highlight of the week, they have also experienced so much more, including a chance to answer the titular question: “where are you going?”

This year, young men ages 14 to 18 in the diocese will once again be offered that opportunity, along with many other faith-building activities, during the 10th annual Quo Vadis Days retreat to be held on the grounds of the beautiful Betannia II Retreat Center in Medway, from Monday, July 8 through Friday, July 12.

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 previously 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 10th 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,” Father Cook said.

The five-day retreat, in addition to allowing young men to escape the busyness of day-to-day routines, offers them a time for 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 popular hike up Mount Monadnock can be included in the faith aspect, as well as the recreational phase of the retreat.

“The hike is a highlight of the week, not only for those who have never hiked up a mountain before to see the beauty, but also for the experience as a group to help each other,” Father Cook said. “I think there is always a great lesson — not only physically but also Spiritually — when you hike a mountain. You learn about perseverance, about sacrifice, and about the beauty of God’s creation — especially when you reach the peak and it is a great lesson on the joy of reaching our ultimate goal, which is Heaven.”

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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 another much-anticipated highlight — a soccer match with Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V.

“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.

Father Cook said a key to the success of Quo Vadis is in maintaining that balance between quiet times for prayer and reflection and the more fun-filled recreational activities.

“Teen-age boys naturally enjoy activities, so it is important that we give some time each day for it,” he said. “But I think most recognize the importance of times for prayer and the Sacraments, and the structure of each day enables them to put that importance into action. For some of them, they may not naturally give that time if they are around their peers, but this retreat helps foster that and they quickly realize they enjoy the balance we try to give.”

In this digital age where smart phones and social media outlets such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter constantly compete for a teen-ager’s attention, Father Cook said an experience such as Quo Vadis can be very refreshing.

“All of us can allow many good things in daily life to distract us and we don’t realize we need time for rest and spending time in reflection,” he said. “As great as social media can be, it can also function as a great distraction from reflecting on our daily lives. Once the guys get away from the social media stuff, they start to find the joy of getting away from the daily grind and discover the beauty of peace found when we give time to the Lord.”

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.

The Quo Vadis website (qvdays.org) said the retreat serves 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.”

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.

To register for the upcoming Quo Vadis Days retreat, contact Father Kevin Cook at 508-336-5549 or email frcook@fallrivervocations.org.

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


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