July 24, 2020

‘It’s the best life ever’

Despite pandemic, Bishop Bruté Days shares the priesthood with teenage boys

In the cemetery of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Shelby County on July 10, archdiocesan vocations director Father Michael Keucher gathers with Bishop Bruté Days participants around the grave of Father Vincent Bacquelin, the first priest to minister regularly in central Indiana. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

In the cemetery of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Shelby County on July 10, archdiocesan vocations director Father Michael Keucher gathers with Bishop Bruté Days participants around the grave of Father Vincent Bacquelin, the first priest to minister regularly in central Indiana. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

SHELBY COUNTY—Archdiocesan Catholics face many challenges in carrying out the mission of the Church in central and southern Indiana in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

On July 10, though, 50 young men from across the state who are open to the priesthood were inspired by visiting the grave of the first priest to minister regularly in central Indiana, Father Vincent Bacquelin, who faced his own challenges in caring for the faithful spread out across the frontier wilderness.

The teenage boys were at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Shelby County as part of Bishop Bruté Days, an annual event sponsored by the archdiocesan vocations office for young men thinking about a priestly vocation.

Ordinarily, Bishop Bruté Days takes place during three days at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis. Because of the pandemic, it was limited to one day this year. Steps taken to limit the spread of the virus at the event included holding it primarily outside on the grounds of the Batesville Deanery faith community which Father Bacquelin founded in 1837.

The missionary priest died in 1846 as he returned on horseback from Rushville where he had gone to anoint a dying man. His horse threw him after it was spooked by a swarm of bees. Father Bacquelin died of his injuries.

Father Michael Keucher, archdiocesan vocations director, reflected on Father Bacquelin in a homily during Mass during Bishop Bruté Days. A stained-glass window at St. Vincent de Paul Church portrays Father Bacquelin on horseback.

“Father Vincent Baquelin died bringing the sacraments to the people,” Father Keucher said, explaining the window to his young listeners. “That’s what it’s about. The priesthood is an amazing, amazing thing.”

Speaking about Bishop Bruté, Father Bacquelin and other priests who ministered in Indiana in the 1830s, Father Keucher said, “We owe our faith to them.”

“But what about the future, guys?” he asked. “Who’s going to be a priest, doing this amazing work in the future? It’s going to be you, some of you. God has put a vocation to the priesthood on the heart of some of you.

“ … If [the priesthood is] God’s will for you, don’t be afraid of it. Embrace it because, I have to tell you, it’s the best life ever.”

Jose Trinidad, a previous Bishop Bruté Days participant and a member of St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus, heard Father Keucher ask those questions.

“I’m pretty interested in how cool the priesthood is,” said Jose. “Seeing the seminarians inspires me to dive deeper into what the priesthood actually is.”

Peter Litchfield and other Bishop Bruté Days participants from the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese were interested enough in the priesthood that they left their homes in northern Indiana well before sunrise to take part in the event.

“I’ve really loved it so far,” said Peter, who previously visited the seminary. “I want to come back down again because of the seminary. It’s so cool.”

It was encouraging for him to see so many other young men his age from across the state open to the priesthood.

“I think it’s really good,” said Peter, who will be a high school sophomore in the fall. “I’ve been thinking off and on. It’s what we need right now.”

Seminarian Tyler Huber helped oversee Bishop Bruté Days.

He, too, liked seeing so many young men take part in Bishop Bruté Days, despite the challenges of the pandemic.

“It’s awesome to see and witness,” said Huber, a member of St. Mary-of-the-Knobs Parish in Floyd County. “I never asked the question about the priesthood until I got to college. To see young guys already thinking about it in high school, to see their devotion and sincerity of these guys praying and asking about it when a lot of their friends wouldn’t ask it is inspiring.”

“To see a church with 50 young guys in it praying was awesome,” said Huber, who is receiving his priestly formation at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad.

Father Keucher watched the participants gather in groups on the grounds of the parish to hear talks from seminarians about diocesan priest saints. He saw the teenagers take part in an obstacle course that involved running and crab walks, as well as praying a decade of the rosary and visiting a Marian shrine.

“It’s encouraging to see how many people wanted to take part, despite the pandemic, knowing that we’re taking precautions,” Father Keucher said. “There were so many people who reached out and said, ‘Please don’t cancel Bishop Bruté Days. Don’t make it virtual.’

“People were yearning for the communal aspect of this event. I do lament that it can’t be three days like normal, though. It’s the best thing that we could do, though, I think, given this situation.”
 

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

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