Local Religious life

Retreat can be crucial step on path to priesthood

by Joe Bollig


KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Evan Tinker might not be an archdiocesan seminarian if it weren’t for a simple Latin question: Quo vadis?

It means, “Where are you going?”

Quo Vadis is the name of an annual January retreat designed to help college-age men decide if they might have a vocation to the priesthood. The question — taken from an apocryphal encounter between St. Peter and the risen Christ — was crucial for Tinker, a member of Holy Spirit Parish in Overland Park.

“It was what pushed me over the edge,” said Tinker, now a first-year pre-theology student at Kenrick- Glennon Seminary in St. Louis.

During the retreat, each participant had an opportunity for a one-on-one discussion with Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann.

“I was a mechanical engineer and running my own landscaping business,” said Tinker. “[The archbishop] said I was way too busy to discern my vocation, and the best place for me to finish my discernment was at [the] seminary. I took that as an urging from him, and it was the best step.”

During the last Quo Vadis retreat, held from Jan. 1 to 4, 16 young men gathered at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kan., to ponder which way their lives were going: a vocation to the priesthood, or another direction.

“It’s a challenging retreat for men,” said Father Mitchel Zimmerman, director of vocations. “It’s not a layup. Quo Vadis is an opportunity for young men to be particularly open to the priesthood with some intensity over four days.”

In addition to meeting with the archbishop, participants attended the Epiphany Mass at the cathedral, carried out a service project, watched documentaries, attended lectures and talked with seminarians. Above all, however, they spent lots of time in prayer. They attended Mass daily and had a Holy Hour before the Eucharist.

“We are grateful for the guys who came,” said Fa- ther Zimmerman. “This is an important benchmark in our promotion of priestly vocations every year. We’re in touch with about 300 guys a year, and we know that some aren’t ready to carve out that much time or be that open to the priesthood.”

The idea of a vocation to the priesthood can be daunting — even intimidating — to a young man. Quo Vadis is a way for them to meet other young men asking the same questions, and come closer to a decision.

“I wouldn’t say I was shy about it, but I definitely wanted to keep my desire [for] and questions about the priesthood to myself,” said Luke Doyle, a member of Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Topeka and a junior in the college program at Kenrick-Glennon.

“I didn’t want anyone to know I was thinking about going to [the] seminary,” he continued. “This retreat was a great way to take a step forward.”

If you would like more information about the priesthood or vocations office programs, call Father Zimmerman at (913) 647-0356.

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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