New Year’s vocation retreat provides support, fellowship

by Kara Hansen
Special to The Leaven

Kansas City, Kan. — Nineteen young men decided to forgo the traditional bowl games this year to start the New Year in a very different way — by attending a retreat designed to help them consider a vocation to the priesthood.

The Quo Vadis retreat — “Quo vadis” is Latin for “Where are you going?” — was held at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kan., from Jan. 1-4. The retreat was designed to provide opportunities for young men ages 16 and older to consider more closely what kind of vocation God might be calling them to, and to learn more about seminary life and the priesthood. Events for the weekend included daily Mass, a daily Holy Hour, prayer, service, meals, and time for recreation.

“We did everything from having scheduled prayer and Liturgy of the Hours four times a day, which really helped — morning, daytime, evening, and right before bed,” said Anthony Mersmann, a 16-yearold parishioner at Holy Family Parish in Eudora who attended the retreat.

“And we were all together the whole time,” he added. “It was great for fellowship and gave us the chance to get to know seminarians and other guys discerning their call.”

Mersmann said he tries to attend a number of retreats to help keep his vocational discernment at the top of his priority list. He became interested in the Quo Vadis retreat after hearing about it from one of the seminarians at Camp Tekakwitha in Williamsburg last summer. Mersmann found the retreat to be particularly beneficial in helping him discern his vocation to the priesthood.

“It was significant for me; I got to experience the priesthood and the seminarian life like I have not before,” said Mersmann. “I got to talk to seminarians and had my own time to talk to the archbishop. That was very helpful.”

Though Mersmann said he had been considering a vocation to the priesthood since his freshman year of high school, he felt the retreat brought further clarity to his discernment.

“Before the retreat, I was confident God wants me to become a priest,” said Mersmann. “But this retreat brought it even further. It got me really excited.”

Mersmann said he would recommend the retreat and other activities offered by the archdiocesan vocations office to any young man thinking about the possibility of becoming a priest.

“If you are even considering a call to the priesthood or any vocation whatsoever, everybody starts out confused,” said Mersmann. “Nobody knows right away what their call is. These retreats . . . are amazing for your discernment.”

“Even when in seminary, it’s still a discernment process; you’re not being locked in in the slightest,” he continued. “You’re just learning more about it and discovering what God wants you to do.”

In the meantime, Mersmann will take the retreat as one more milestone of encouragement on the road of his discernment. He plans and hopes to apply for Conception Seminary College this summer. In the meantime, he plans to keep in touch with Father Mitchel Zimmerman, director of the vocations office, and continue deepening his relationship with God.

“I consider myself blessed because during the past two years my desire to serve God has only grown more and more,” said Mersmann. “I am also extremely grateful that my family and close friends are supportive of my decision to enter the seminary.”

Additional reporting by Joe Bollig.

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