July 12, 2019

‘A day of hope and connections’: Vocations camp participants pray at the tomb of Bishop Simon Bruté

Jose Trinidad, left, Jose Ortiz and Brandon Todd kneel in prayer on June 26 during a Mass at St. Francis Xavier Basilica in Vincennes. The three were among 39 high school participants in Bishop Bruté Days, an annual archdiocesan vocations camp. Trinidad and Ortiz are members of St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus. Todd is a member of St. Patrick Parish in Terre Haute. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Jose Trinidad, left, Jose Ortiz and Brandon Todd kneel in prayer on June 26 during a Mass at St. Francis Xavier Basilica in Vincennes. The three were among 39 high school participants in Bishop Bruté Days, an annual archdiocesan vocations camp. Trinidad and Ortiz are members of St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus. Todd is a member of St. Patrick Parish in Terre Haute. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

VINCENNES, Ind.—On June 18, 1839, the Servant of God Bishop Simon Bruté knew that the end of his life was near.

Suffering from tuberculosis for many years, the first bishop of the Diocese of Vincennes, which later became the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, had a final message for his flock spread across all of Indiana and the eastern third of Illinois.

“I recommend to all the faithful of the diocese to persevere above all trials in the divine faith and in the Catholic, apostolic Church, the Church of God on Earth, having the doctrine of Christ from the days of Peter and the Apostles unto the end of time.

“Now I, Catholic bishop of Vincennes, by the appointment of the successor of Peter, the vicar of Christ on Earth and visible head of his Church, I do in life or in death humbly rejoice before my God.”

Bishop Bruté died eight days later on June 26, 1839. His last wish for the Church in Indiana continued to be fulfilled 180 years later when dozens of teenage boys from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis took a pilgrimage to the Basilica of St. Francis Xavier in Vincennes and prayed at the tomb of Bishop Bruté there.

They were participants in the annual Bishop Bruté Days vocations camp sponsored by the archdiocesan vocations office.

Father Joseph Newton, archdiocesan vicar judicial and vice postulator of the beatification and canonization cause of Bishop Bruté, preached about Indiana’s first bishop during a homily at the basilica.

Father Newton described how Bishop Bruté worked to draw more priests to the state when he began ministry with only three. Bishop Bruté, Father Newton said, also founded many parishes, schools and a seminary.

“Throughout all his missionary work here in Indiana, he … planted the seeds of the faith life of our local community, so much that the Diocese of Evansville and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis still derive so much from Bishop Bruté,” Father Newton said. “We remember him not for what he did, but we remember him for his pastor’s heart, for his leadership, for being out front and leading his people.

“A pastor’s heart, which is key to the mission of a bishop, is something that Bishop Bruté always had.”

Will Yunger, a Bishop Bruté Days participant from All Saints Parish in Dearborn County, appreciated making the pilgrimage to Vincennes.

“I thought it was really cool to see the history that I didn’t even know existed,” said Will, who will be a senior at the Oldenburg Academy of the Immaculate Conception in Oldenburg during the next academic year. “I knew about Bishop Bruté, but I didn’t have an idea how impactful he was and how much he did.

“Just seeing how much he did and how much one person can do is kind of inspiring. It just makes me see the Church differently.”

Archdiocesan seminarian James “JJ” Huber was also a pilgrim to the tomb of Bishop Bruté, his first trip to Vincennes.

Praying there was a powerful experience, the member of St. Gabriel Parish in Connersville said, inspiring him to follow in Bishop Bruté’s footsteps as he prepares for priestly life and ministry in central and southern Indiana.

“Just to be here, that connection, that was deep,” Huber said. “That was impressive. You’re speechless, just kind of speechless.”

Father Eric Augenstein, archdiocesan vocations director, spoke during the pilgrimage about the importance of taking Bishop Bruté Days participants to Vincennes.

“It was a day of hope and connections,” he said. “Hope in continuing the legacy that was begun by Bishop Bruté even today through a new generation of young men who are discerning the priesthood.

“They can see how that [legacy] has continued to be lived even today through those who are striving to follow the legacy of our pioneer bishop and the pioneer priests and lay people of the diocese.”

Members of the Indianapolis Serra Club and of councils of the Knights of Columbus support Bishop Bruté Days, which took place this year on June 25-27 at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis.

Zoe Cannon, a member of the Serra Club and of SS. Francis and Clare of Assisi Parish in Greenwood, was especially pleased to help with the pilgrimage since she previously lived in Vincennes.

“I love being a member of the Serra Club, promoting the formation for the priesthood for our seminarians,” Cannon said. “The bravery and sacrifices that were made by Bishop Bruté are something that young kids need to hear.”

In addition to praying at the Basilica of St. Francis Xavier, Bishop Bruté Days’ participants also visited the nearby George Rogers Clark National Historical Park and learned about how that Revolutionary War leader captured a British fort in Vincennes. One ranger at the park even fired the kind of rifle that some of Clark’s men would have used.

At Bishop Bruté Seminary, the participants in the vocations camp heard presentations on the faith, prayed the Liturgy of the Hours, attended Mass, had the opportunity to experience the sacrament of penance and prayed in adoration of the Eucharist.

They also enjoyed fellowship in outdoor games and met several archdiocesan seminarians and priests.

Thirty-nine high-school age boys from 16 parishes across central and southern Indiana and three outside the archdiocese participated in Bishop Bruté Days. A one-day track for junior high-age boys took place on June 27 and drew 18 participants.

Parents of the participants came to the seminary for a closing ceremony and supper on June 27.

“I just think that it’s a good group of people, good fraternity for the young men,” said Amy Tenhundfeld of All Saints Parish in Dearborn County. “It’s a good sense of community and is great to see all that support for our sons and our faith.”

Mary Ivancsics, who drove some three hours from Mishawaka, Ind., was glad to see how her son Johnny had a good experience at the vocations camp.

“He’s talked about being a priest since the fifth grade,” said Mary. “I’m really excited that he’s getting time to do some serious discerning and being away from everything that he knows.”

“It was fantastic,” Johnny said. “I’m really looking forward to maybe doing it again next year. It was nice to meet new people. They helped me grow in my faith. And I think I helped them too, maybe.”
 

(To learn more about a vocation to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, visit www.HearGodsCall.com. To learn more about Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis, visit www.bishopsimonbrute.org. To learn more about the beatification and canonization cause of the Servant of God Bishop Simon Bruté, visit www.archindy.org/brute.)

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