July 15, 2022

Record number of youths open their hearts to the priesthood and the Eucharist at Bishop Bruté Days

A Bishop Bruté Days participant kneels in prayer on July 6 in the Divine Mercy Perpetual Adoration Chapel at St. Joseph Parish in Shelbyville. The annual archdiocesan-sponsored vocations camp drew 90 teenage boys from across central and southern Indiana (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

A Bishop Bruté Days participant kneels in prayer on July 6 in the Divine Mercy Perpetual Adoration Chapel at St. Joseph Parish in Shelbyville. The annual archdiocesan-sponsored vocations camp drew 90 teenage boys from across central and southern Indiana (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

GREENSBURG and SHELBYVILLE—A school bus packed with high school boys, driven by a priest on fire for Christ and the Eucharist, wound its way on July 6 on a kind of eucharistic procession from the north side of Indianapolis to the southeastern corner of the state.

Along the way, the boys stopped to pray in five eucharistic adoration chapels, worship at Mass and pray the Liturgy of the Hours, the rosary and the chaplet of Divine Mercy. They also went bowling and played basketball and gaga ball.

It was just another ordinary day during Bishop Bruté Days, the yearly vocations camp sponsored by the archdiocesan vocations office for middle school and high school age boys who are open to a calling to the priesthood. This year was the 17th installment of the summer retreat-like experience and took place from July 5-7 for high school participants. Middle schoolers took part in the camp on July 7. (See a photo gallery from the event)

Thoughts of a Bishop Bruté Days veteran

One corner of St. Joseph Parish in Shelbyville brought together much of what Bishop Bruté Days is about.

There was a gaga ball court where teenage boys threw themselves into a form of team dodgeball. Not far away was a basketball court where raucous boys cheered when their team scored a bucket.

And right in the middle of it all was a perpetual adoration chapel where boys took turns praying before Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament.

Seminarian James Hentz stood nearby, taking it in.

“It’s been really exciting to see all of the guys here, to see them interacting, to see them praying together,” said Hentz, who helped oversee this year’s Bishop Bruté Days. “They’re starting to form relationships that will last throughout their priesthood—if they’re called to it.”

Hentz should know. He took part in Bishop Bruté Days six times as a middle school and high school student from St. Michael Parish in Greenfield. This was his fourth year to assist as a seminarian.

In August, he will begin his final year of formation at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis, where Bishop Bruté Days primarily takes place.

Hentz first met some of his fellow seminarians when they all took part in the vocations camp.

“I remember having some late-night conversations with them when we were at Bishop Bruté Days,” he recalled.

Not far away, cheers went up from a gaga ball court filled with teenage boys from across central and southern Indiana.

“They’re starting to get to know the guys who, God willing, they’ll be brother priests with in the future,” Hentz said.

‘A real shot in the arm’

If the number of participants in this year’s Bishop Bruté Days is any indication, that brotherhood may be on the increase in the years to come.

There were 65 high school participants and 25 middle schoolers from 23 archdiocesan parishes and four in other dioceses. The combined 90 participants smashed the previous combined record of 64 participants, which had occurred twice, including last year.

Archdiocesan vocations director Father Michael Keucher named various potential reasons for the increase in numbers.

“It might be word of mouth,” he said. “I think there are more vocations groups going on now around the archdiocese. A lot of them are here.

“It may be a fruit of a revival in families, parishes and schools, a renewed focus on vocations across the archdiocese. I hope it is.”

Father Joseph Moriarty was encouraged by the increased number of young men filling for a few days the seminary he leads.

“It’s a real shot in the arm,” he said.

Father Moriarty also had a more direct explanation for the growth in the vocations camp.

“I attribute the lion’s share of it to the zeal of Father Mike,” Father Moriarty said. “He’s on fire for God. And it seems to me that that’s contagious.”

‘You can look right at God’

The spirit of faith and hope that started with Father Keucher was like a virus that soon spread like wildfire among the boys taking part in Bishop Bruté Days.

Adam Hermesch, a member of All Saints Parish in Dearborn County, signed up for this year’s camp after taking part in it for the first time last year. He came back in large part because of the joy of spending time with other faith-filled young men his age.

“I have no idea of their background or anything, but I can go up to them and talk with them about Jesus,” said Adam. “It’s so awesome meeting other guys like that. We go to adoration and everyone is silent and loving God. It’s amazing.

“I can look to them for wisdom or moral support. I can go up and talk with anyone of them and say that I need help with whatever it might be and they’ll help me willingly right then and there.”

Like Adam, Zachary Branham, a member of St. John the Apostle Parish in Bloomington, took part in Bishop Bruté Days this year after attending for the first time last year.

“I really enjoyed the seminarians’ talks and the socializing and the sports,” Zachary said. “It’s great to see such a great event attracting a bigger crowd. If it’s an enjoyable event, it’s going to get bigger.”

Zachary ultimately pointed to eucharistic adoration as the powerhouse for Bishop Bruté Days.

“A lot of the energy in the Church is coming from the youth,” he said. “Seeing a lot of guys going to adoration is meaningful. It’s a great place to be. It’s quiet. You can hear God talking to you. You can look right at God.”

‘Allow the Eucharist to transform your hearts’

It was easy for Father Keucher to hone in on the Eucharist as the theme for this year’s gathering. Just weeks before, the archdiocese and dioceses across the country began the three-year National Eucharistic Revival.

Father Keucher said there’s a powerful tie between discerning vocations and the Eucharist.

“The more that young men fall in love with the Eucharist, the more they’ll be in tune with God’s will and the more that they’ll want to give their lives over to Christ in whatever way that Christ is calling them,” Father Keucher said. “The more that we can help our young generation to fall in love with the Eucharist, the more that they’ll fall in love with Jesus. It’s awesome.”

Transitional Deacon Jose Neri knows this from experience. Scheduled to be ordained a priest for the archdiocese in 2023, he assisted at this year’s Bishop Bruté Days.

“I personally can trace my calling back to the Eucharist, spending time in adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament and going to Mass,” he said. “My faith is really rooted in that. I can definitely see how God can guide them and talk with them [in the Eucharist].”

After the busload of participants had stopped at four adoration chapels from Indianapolis to the town of Dover in southeastern Indiana, the teenage boys sat down for Mass at St. John the Baptist Church, which is on a campus of All Saints Parish in Dearborn County.

Father Jonathan Meyer, pastor in solidum of the parish with Father Daniel Mahan, spoke to the boys in his homily about the power of the words Christ spoke, “This is my body given up for you,” at the Last Supper when he began the Eucharist.

“My life as a priest is transformed by those words,” said Father Meyer. “I give up my life every single day to my bride, which is the Church. And I will tell you that it is awesome. I love being a priest. I give my body every single day to my bride.

“I hope that some of you have felt the Holy Spirit and know that the Holy Spirit is calling you to marry … the Church.”

At Mass on the last day back at the seminary, Father James Brockmeier invited his young listeners to “allow the Eucharist to transform your hearts.”

“If Jesus is calling you to be his priest, he will certainly do this in drawing you into a love for the Eucharist,” he said. “He’ll also do it by drawing you into a love for his people. Jesus sends us out as he sent out the disciples to love the sick, to love the broken, to love the sinner.

“Allow the Eucharist to transform your hearts today, so that all of us may love with the heart of Jesus Christ.”

Sitting at a table in the courtyard of the seminary just before he left for home, Charlie Kaufman spoke about the care given in homilies and presentations on the Eucharist during Bishop Bruté Days.

“Everyone spoke of it so lovingly,” said Charlie, a member of St. Simon the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis. “Whenever anyone gave a talk about the Eucharist, they meant what they said. It wasn’t just them giving a speech.”

As he looked forward to going home, Charlie imagined how Bishop Bruté Days might change him.

“I might try to do a holy hour more often,” he said. “I’ll think about the priesthood more.”

(For more photos from Bishop Bruté Days, visit www.CriterionOnline.com. For more information on a vocation to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, visit www.HearGodsCall.com.) †


Related story: Renovated entrance of seminary features new statue of Bishop Bruté

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