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JOHNSON COUNTY—Bishop Bruté Days is starting to bear fruit.
Three of the four young men who are expected to be freshman seminarians for the archdiocese starting in the fall at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis attended the annual vocations retreat and camping experience sponsored by the seminary multiple times.
All three served as counselors at the fifth annual Bishop Bruté Days held on June 16-19 at the Future Farmers of America Leadership Center in southern Johnson County.
“It helped me to see that the seminarians are normal guys,” said Joseph Cole, a member of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Bedford, who has attended four Bishop Bruté Days and expects to be a freshman at the seminary and at nearby Marian University this fall.
“The seminary … is for normal guys seeking holiness. Seeing all of the priests really inspired me to want to be one. I think it really helped.”
Timothy DeCrane, a member of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis, anticipates joining Cole in the freshman class at the seminary in August.
“Our society is so secularized that kids are often fearful about admitting that they have a desire to be a priest,” DeCrane said. “With Bishop Bruté Days, you’re among a number of your peers that are exploring their own call. It really encourages you and brings you deeper into your faith just by seeing the zeal and joy other people have.”
Young men in junior high and high school who are open to the possibility of the priesthood may attend Bishop Bruté Days. It includes daily Mass, confession, eucharistic adoration, devotions such as the rosary, presentations on the faith as well as outdoor activities such as team dodgeball and swimming. (Related: See a photo gallery from this event)
Bishop Bruté Days is organized by the staff and seminarians at Bishop Bruté Seminary and other adult volunteers. Organizations such as the Knights of Columbus and the Serra Club of Indianapolis provided meals at it.
The evidence that Bishop Bruté Days is bearing fruit is also seen in its continued growth from year to year.
Fifty-nine junior high and high school-aged boys attended this year. They came from 22 parishes and seven deaneries in the archdiocese. Parishes in the Cincinnati Archdiocese and Lafayette Diocese were also represented.
Some of this growth came about through word of mouth. Last year, six youths from St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross Parish in Bright took part in Bishop Bruté Days. Nine participated this year.
One of the newcomers was Joe Bandenburg.
“A bunch of people told me that it was really awesome,” said Joe, who will be a high school freshman in the fall. “I just thought, ‘OK, well I’ll go and see if I want to become a priest.’ It’s really fun.”
The growth is also due in part to priests like Father Thomas Kovatch, pastor of St. Teresa, who openly encourage young men in parishes to consider the priesthood.
“I always tell them that if you’re a young guy, you have to think about if God might be calling you,” said Father Kovatch, who also attended Bishop Bruté Days this year. “It doesn’t mean that you’re going to go to the seminary. But you have to be open to it. So these guys are taking that step. They’re open to it.”
The growth of Bishop Bruté Days is also sustained by the fact that young men like Troy Kunkel keep taking part year after year.
“I love coming back and seeing all of the seminarians and all of my buddies,” said Troy, a member of St. Mary Parish in Greensburg, who will be a high school junior in the fall. “It’s just a great time. I like to hang out with Father Bob [Robeson] and all of the priests. They’re all great guys.”
Troy said that he is actively thinking about becoming a seminarian.
“In order to become a seminarian, you have to have peers that share your same views so they can teach you more about your faith and you can teach them more about your faith,” he said. “They can keep you on the right path.”
Father Robert Robeson, the rector of Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary, is pleased with the fruit that the vocations camp is bearing.
“We wanted to encourage young men to pursue a vocation to the priesthood,” he said. “And we want young men to feel comfortable, feel like they’re not sort of an outcast if they are thinking about becoming a priest.
“I think that as we continue to do this, it’s going to be even more fruitful every year.”
Msgr. Joseph F. Schaedel, vicar general, celebrated Mass at Bishop Bruté Days on June 17. Afterward, he said the vocations camp is helpful not just to young men considering the priesthood, but to the priests who attend as well.
“This is our future,” he said. “To see so many young men interested in perhaps pursuing a vocation fills us with hope.”
It is also hopeful for new seminarians like Cole to know that some of the young men coming to Bishop Bruté Days for the first time this year may very well become seminarians after him in the years to come.
“It’s really cool because I get to help them have the same experience that I had,” he said, “and inspire them like I was inspired.”
One of those young men was Tommy Lutz, a 12-year-old member of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Cincinnati, who will be a seventh grader in the fall.
“I thought that this would be a good time to pray and think about the priesthood,” Tommy said. “I want to become a priest, but I’m not sure if God wants me to become a priest. That’s why I’m here—to pray about it.”
At 23, Bishop Bruté Days counselor Matt Tucci is 11 years older than Tommy. He will begin his first year as a seminarian for the archdiocese at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad this fall.
A member of St. Paul Catholic Center in Bloomington, Tucci was impressed with the openness to a priestly vocation in the young men who attended Bishop Bruté Days this year.
“It’s great that kids this young are discerning about whether or not they’re called to a priestly vocation,” Tucci said. “When I was that age, I was totally closed to it.
“It’s a testament to their communities. It’s a testament to their families. And, of course, it’s a testament to the kids, too, that, at this young age, they’re open to a priestly vocation.
“There’s hope on the horizon.”
(For more information about Bishop Bruté Days and Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis, log on to www.archindy.org/bsb.) †