June 24, 2011

‘A sense of how seminary life is’

Bishop Bruté Days helps foster a culture of vocations

Father Thomas Kovatch, pastor of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross Parish in Bright, elevates the Body and Blood of Christ during a June 15 Mass as part of Bishop Bruté Days, an annual vocations retreat and camping experience for junior high and high school-aged youths sponsored by Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis. It was held from June 14-17 at the Indiana Future Farmers of America Leadership Center in southern Johnson County, and attracted more than 40 participants from across the archdiocese and beyond. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Father Thomas Kovatch, pastor of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross Parish in Bright, elevates the Body and Blood of Christ during a June 15 Mass as part of Bishop Bruté Days, an annual vocations retreat and camping experience for junior high and high school-aged youths sponsored by Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis. It was held from June 14-17 at the Indiana Future Farmers of America Leadership Center in southern Johnson County, and attracted more than 40 participants from across the archdiocese and beyond. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

JOHNSON COUNTY—Want a sign of hope that more young men in central and southern Indiana are open to a vocation to the priesthood?

Look no further than a soggy field in the middle of a rainstorm.

That was where some 40 youths from across central and southern Indiana and beyond ran around screaming and shouting and playing games in the pouring rain on June 15 during the sixth annual Bishop Bruté Days. (Related: See a photo gallery from the event)

This annual vocations retreat and camping experience for junior high and high school-aged boys sponsored by Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis was held from June 14-17 at the Indiana Future Farmers of America Leadership Center in southern Johnson County near Trafalgar.

An annual event since 2006, some of its first participants have now graduated from high school. A few, like Joseph Cole and Vincent Jansen, have become seminarians and are enrolled at Bishop Bruté Seminary and Marian University in Indianapolis, where they take classes connected to their priestly formation.

Father Robert Robeson, rector of Bishop Bruté College Seminary, sees new junior high and high school students signing up for Bishop Bruté Days, and taking the place of its first participants as a hopeful sign for the future.

“It’s very satisfying,” Father Robeson said. “I think the archbishop’s vision for trying to create a culture of vocations is really beginning to bear fruit in that sense. I think we still have a long way to go though.”

And that continuing work needs to happen, Father Robeson said, in parishes and families. Bishop Bruté Days—which gives teenage boys a taste of the daily prayer and fun-filled fellowship of life in a college seminary—can only build on that foundation.

“[Bishop Bruté Days] supports the families and the parishes that are seeking to nurture vocations,” he said. “We give them a concrete channel for helping kids to learn about vocations, and to explore the possibility of vocations and to meet kids that are interested in vocations.”

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross Parish in Bright in the Batesville Deanery has had several teenage boys attend Bishop Bruté Days in recent years. Its pastor, Father Thomas Kovatch, was so pleased by that participation and so interested in promoting vocations in his parish that he came to Bishop Bruté Days this year to give a presentation to high school participants and celebrate Mass.

“To see a lot of them here warms my heart because I truly believe that a lot of them probably do have a call,” Father Kovatch said.

It was the daily routine of morning prayer, evening prayer and the celebration of the Mass that helped Cole answer the call to explore as a seminarian the possibility that God might be calling him to be a priest.

“It’s similar to the seminary. That’s what got me into the seminary,” said Cole, a member of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Bedford.

Like Father Robeson, Cole is glad to see teenage boys coming to Bishop Bruté Days—much like he did five years ago when he was getting ready to become a high school freshman.

“It is very encouraging,” Cole said. “I’m just glad that I’m here to give them the same experience that I had. I hope that God will lead them through my helping out here either into the seminary or into whatever vocation [God is calling them to].”

One of the youths at Bishop Bruté Days getting ready to enter high school this year was Kyle Fricker, a member of St. Joseph Parish in St. Leon.

This was his second time to participate in the vocations camp and retreat, which he said is “a good mix of good adoration and prayer and fun.”

One of the more satisfying parts of Bishop Bruté Days for Kyle is getting to know the seminarians who serve as counselors.

“They’re really good role models,” Kyle said. “They give you a sense of how seminary life is. They make you kind of want to go there with all of the stories they tell you.”

Although Bishop Bruté Days can be a positive influence on teenage boys to consider becoming a seminarian, Father Robeson said that really isn’t its main goal.

“Our primary objective is conversion,” Father Robeson said. “And once conversion takes place, once a kid gets it, once a kid understands that Christ has to be at the center of their life, … the vocations will follow.”

(For more information on Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis, log on to www.archindy.org/bsb.)

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