July 14, 2023

Record number of Bishop Bruté Days’ participants celebrate faith and fun

Actress Laura Linney (left) stars wRoman Caito, a member of St. Michael Parish in Greenfield, kneels on June 26 in the courtyard of Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis to receive a blessing from newly ordained Father Jack Wright during Bishop Bruté Days, the annual vocations camp of the archdiocesan vocations office. Newly ordained Father José Neri, right, joined Father Wright in offering blessings to lines of camp participants. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)ith the legendary Dame Maggie Smith (right) in the film The Miracle Club, which centers around four women’s trip to Lourdes, France. (Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures)

Roman Caito, a member of St. Michael Parish in Greenfield, kneels on June 26 in the courtyard of Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis to receive a blessing from newly ordained Father Jack Wright during Bishop Bruté Days, the annual vocations camp of the archdiocesan vocations office. Newly ordained Father José Neri, right, joined Father Wright in offering blessings to lines of camp participants. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

MOORESVILLE and VINCENNES, Ind.—The more than 100 boys who took part in Bishop Bruté Days from June 26-28 threw themselves completely into whatever they were doing.

Dozens who filled one of three school buses on a pilgrimage to the tomb of the Servant of God Bishop Simon Bruté in Vincennes, Ind. (Evansville Diocese), sang with gusto such varied songs as John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Yet on that same bus ride, their voices blended together in praying the Liturgy of the Hours and the rosary.

(See a photo gallery from throughout the event)

At Bishop Simon Bruté Seminary in Indianapolis and at St. Thomas More Parish in Mooresville—a stop on the June 27 pilgrimage’s return to the seminary—the boys poured their hearts into hard-fought soccer, football and basketball games.

Yet at both the seminary and the parish, they entered into complete silence as they prayed in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

“They pray hard and they play hard,” said Father Michael Keucher, as he drove a packed school bus. The archdiocese’s vocations director led the annual 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.

“That’s exactly what you see in all three days of Bishop Bruté Days,” Father Keucher continued. “The Catholic life is one of prayer and service and celebration.”

This year, that Catholic life reached a new high during the camp with a record 103 participants—59 high schoolers there for all three days and 43 seventh- and eighth-graders who took part on the final day. The participants came from 31 parishes across central and southern Indiana and two other dioceses.

This year’s number of participants mark an increase from 76 just two years ago. Interest among high school boys exceeded the housing capacity of the seminary, so a registration waiting list was implemented starting last year.

“Vocations are becoming a greater focus in our schools, parishes and families,” said Father Keucher. “It’s awesome.”

The “brotherhood of Christ”

Bishop Bruté Days began in 2006 with 16 participants. As the camp has grown, it’s always included daily Mass, opportunities for the sacrament of penance, periods of eucharistic adoration and the praying of the rosary in addition to time for play and socialization. Meals are provided by parishes, the Knights of Columbus and the Serra Club of Indianapolis.

Archdiocesan seminarians help run the camp, interact with the participants and give presentations on the faith.

Seminarian Emiliano Vasquez De Alva, a member of St. Ambrose Parish in Seymour and soon to begin his third year of formation at Bishop Bruté, was encouraged by seeing the enthusiasm of the participants.

“It’s really important for them to see what our life is like here in the seminary, to see how we grow in fraternity and fellowship with others as brothers and sisters in Christ,” said De Alva.

Max Craney said the “brotherhood of Christ” among the Bishop Bruté Days participants was a big draw for him to come back this year after attending for the first time last year.

“It’s true joy,” said Max, a member of St. Jude the Apostle Parish in Spencer. “I don’t have to hide my faith here.”

Living, playing and praying with so many like-minded peers at Bishop Bruté Days was also important for Adam McIntyre, a member of St. Gabriel Parish in Connersville. This was his third year taking part in the camp.

“It’s a fun time,” said Adam. “It’s a good way to prayerfully discern what your future vocation will be. There are a lot of good opportunities for prayer.”

Being together with so many other peers open to the possibility of a priestly vocation led Jacob Flaig of St. Lawrence Parish in Lawrenceburg to look to the future while taking part in Bishop Bruté Days for the second time.

“It’s interesting that we’re all thinking about the same goal,” said Jacob, adding that he was curious about who among his fellow campers would discern a priestly call.

“It is Jesus who calls us.”

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson celebrated Mass on the opening evening of Bishop Bruté Days. In his homily, he encouraged his teenage listeners to focus on Christ, especially present in the Eucharist, in their prayers about their vocation.

“We know the word of God is transforming our hearts and the Eucharist is always there for us,” he said. “It’s what sustains and nourishes us on the journey. … It’s what sustains us in our vocation and in our discernment.

“It is Jesus who calls us. It is Jesus who is always with us intimately, who nurtures, sustains and feeds us in word and sacrament so that we can carry out in service, in his name, the good news of the Gospel.”

After the Mass, Archbishop Thompson spoke with The Criterion about seeing so many young men taking part in the camp.

“The fact that these young people have given up part of their summer and the comfort of their homes to be here shows a lot of great courage, generosity and faith on their part,” he said.

Father Jack Wright and Father José Neri, ordained priests for the archdiocese just three weeks before Bishop Bruté Days, were there on its first day.

Lines of campers waited in the courtyard of the seminary to receive blessings from them. The newly ordained priests spent about an hour answering questions about their vocation and life in seminary. And then they were on hand to hear confessions.

All of this showed Father Wright “that there are guys here who are really interested in how a guy decides to become a priest. They may be interested, too.”

On the verge of beginning his priestly ministry in the archdiocese at St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, Father Wright was happy to see so many young men considering the call that he’s embraced. About two-thirds of this year’s high schoolers had participated in the camp before.

“Most of them probably don’t know yet what the future holds, but the fact that they’re here and come back year after year tells me that God’s doing something with them,” said Father Wright. “It’s great to see because I know it’s going to bear fruit in priestly vocations. I’m sure it will.”

As this year’s Bishop Bruté Days took place at the beginning of the second year of the three-year National Eucharistic Revival, Christ’s presence in the Eucharist was emphasized throughout the camp.

Transitional Deacon Samuel Rosko reflected on the meaning of the Mass and its connection to a priestly vocation in a homily during a holy hour on the first night of the camp.

“The priestly vocation is the Mass,” said Deacon Rosko, a member of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis. “It is a call to live the Mass in your life, your own self gift, your own death and your own rising with Christ.

“In these coming days and especially tonight as you have the opportunity to be with our Lord and keep watch with him in the holy Eucharist truly present here on this altar, offer yourself to Christ. Make the first step. Say, ‘Lord, I am yours. Do with me as you will.’ You’ll be amazed at what might happen.”

Throughout that night, campers took turns praying before the Blessed Sacrament. The first night of adoration had been scheduled. A second night of adoration took place again on the final night of the camp—at the boys’ request.

God at work in their lives

On the final day of Bishop Bruté Days, 43 seventh- and eighth-graders joined the high schoolers and had their own schedule of presentations on the faith, prayer and games.

At the end of the day, parents and other family members of the participants gathered for the closing Mass on the front lawn of the seminary, with an altar arranged high on a hill overlooking it.

Amy Harrity of St. Malachy Parish in Brownsburg was on hand to pick up her son Connor, a first-time Bishop Bruté Days participant who will be a seventh-grader in the fall. She was encouraged by seeing so many parents who want to instill the faith in their children.

“It’s reassuring that it’s a really big community,” she said. “We’re all collectively kind of thinking the same way, wanting our sons to do good things. My prayer for [Connor] today was to be open, to explore the word ‘vocation’ and what that means for him. I want him to listen to what God has in store for him.”

Daniel and Elizabeth Wright, also of St. Malachy Parish, were at the seminary to pick up their son Elijah. He had participated in Bishop Bruté Days last year and asked to sign up again.

“You don’t want to push them into it,” said Daniel. “You want to be pulled into it and for them to think that this is where they belong. So, it’s reassuring that this is what he wants to do.”

In his homily at the closing Mass, Father Keucher left the young men at Bishop Bruté Days and their parents with an important message to keep in their hearts and minds.

“A vocation is never of human origin,” he said. “It’s always of divine origin. You can never explain a vocation, especially a priestly vocation. Something happens inside of you.

“All of you young men who have been here the last three days, and some of you here just today, know that God has already been at work in your life. It’s been a joy to see that and to hear your witness. It’s a joy to see it in you.”

(For more information about a vocation to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, visit HearGodsCall.com.)

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