August 12, 2005

Vocation campers learn about virtues,
gain discipline and have fun

By Sean Gallagher

What do a lot of boys do on an early morning in the first week of August? They probably sleep late, enjoying the last few lazy days of summer before the start of a new school year.

But about a week ago, more than 40 boys from several parishes in the archdiocese were dressed in shirts and ties before 8 a.m., praying Morning Prayer and attending Mass.

They were participating in “E6: Putting on the Armor of God,” a vocations camp sponsored by Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood, held on Aug. 3-6 at Our Lady of the Apostles Family Center in Hancock County.

“E6” refers to the sixth chapter of St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, where the Apostle to the gentiles says to “Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil” (Eph 6:10).

This chapter set the tone for the camp as the participants were encouraged to live lives of virtue and to be open to a possible call to the priesthood.

The boys at the camp heard this message during presentations and homilies given by Father Jonathan Meyer, associate pastor of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish and associate director of the archdiocesan Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, who directed the camp.

Father William M. Williams, associate pastor of St. Simon the Apostle Parish and chaplain of Father Thomas Scecina Memorial High School, both in Indianapolis, also spoke to the campers.

A son of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish, Father Williams spoke about the impact the camp made on him after celebrating Mass for the campers on Aug. 4.

“It’s very powerful to see these young boys here, giving God a chance, as the archbishop always says, and at least praying about vocations,” he said. “How many of them will be [priests]? I don’t know. But it’s a powerful thing to see, and it’s moving for me as a newly ordained priest.”

Several parents also assisted with the camp, including Kevin Johnson, a member of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish and the father of two of the campers and an uncle of two other boys.

He said that the camp will help participants simply grow to be good men.

“It will make men out of them,” Johnson said. “I don’t think every one of these boys will become priests, but it will help them in other areas of their lives as they grow up.”

Michael Jackson, who will soon be a sixth-grader at Holy Name School in Beech Grove, said he was having fun at the camp and that he was learning “about virtue and how to respect God more.”

He also reflected on the possible long-term impact of the camp, saying “it makes you a man and your relationship with God better. If I ever have kids, I can teach [the virtues] to them.”

John Welch, a 12-year-old member of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish, said he had made many friends at the camp and it showed him “mostly just how to fall in love more with Jesus.”

Two of the archdiocese’s newest seminarians, Chris Casey, a member of St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis, and Michael Parrett, a member of Our Lady of the Greenwood, served as two of the camp’s four camp counselors. Casey and Parrett will be freshmen at Marian College in Indianapolis and reside there at the Bishop Bruté House of Formation.

Managing a lot of young kids wasn’t new for Parrett, who is the oldest of his family’s 12 children.

“I think it’s a great environment for kids,” he said. “It’s been a great experience for me as well. I’ve learned a lot just about leadership in general. It’s been a lot of fun.”

The days of the camp were punctuated by prayer. Mass was celebrated each day. The Liturgy of the Hours was also prayed. There were times for eucharistic adoration and praying the rosary and the chaplet of Divine Mercy. Opportunities for the sacrament of reconciliation were also available.

Finally, E6 was filled with fun. The campers competed in Catholic trivia contests and outdoor games. But a spirit of competition pervaded the camp.

The boys were divided into four teams. They were given points if they came out on top in games. Acting virtuously and following the camp’s discipline also resulted in the awarding of points. The teams who led the competition at various points during the camp were given special privileges.

Father Meyer said that the camp helps build a community of boys and young men “where it’s ok to think about being a priest.”

He noted that encouraging boys to live virtuously is important in fostering priestly vocations because, as they are more strongly tempted to sin when they enter adolescence, they might think that this vocation is too high for them to attain.

Valuing the virtues, combined with a growing love of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and the sacrament of reconciliation, will help young men be more open to the priesthood, Father Meyer said.

“God might be calling many of you to be priests,” Father Meyer told the campers during a homily at Mass on Aug. 4, the Memorial of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests. “And it does not matter whether you are smart. It does not matter what family you come from, whether you’re rich, whether you’re poor. What matters first and foremost is that you desire to be holy, that you desire to grow in God’s grace.”

On Aug. 5, the boys went to Spring Mill State Park in Mitchell. They swam in a pond there, hiked on one of its trails and listened to a presentation on the virtue of temperance.

On Aug. 6, the closing day, the campers’ parents joined them for the closing Mass.

Carla Zachodni, a mother of one camper and the chairperson of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish’s Vocations Committee, had high hopes for the boys who attended E6.

“I would hope that every single one of these boys will be affected,” she said, “and that they will grow in holiness and that they will go back to their homes or wherever they may be and just be beacons for the rest of the kids.” †


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