100 seek God’s plan for lives at Emmaus Days

Photo Caption: 22 freshman and sophomore boys took part in Emmaus Days Session III at St. Bede.

By: By Jared Olar

God has an individual plan for everyone, and we are called to cooperate with that plan whatever it may be.

That important message was delivered to about 100 boys and young men who took part in this summer’s four sessions of Emmaus Days. The annual retreat program, sponsored by the diocesan Office of Vocations, encourages young men to consider whether or not God is calling them to the priesthood or religious life.

“All of us have been charged to live our faith — and not only to live it when it is easy, but when it is hard,” said Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, in his homily during the closing Mass of the fourth Emmaus Days session last Friday.

“God has a plan for every single one of you, and your families are here to support you in whatever you are called to,” the bishop told the retreatants, who were joined by their families for the Mass at St. Bede Abbey Church in Peru.

“Christianity is not for wimps. Christianity is a fighting religion,” Bishop Jenky said. “It’s not always going to be easy, but it’s always going to be worth it,” he encouraged the youths, adding, “Be ready to give when God asks.”

The final session was for seventh and eighth grade boys. Attended by 43 boys, it was hosted by St. Bede Abbey in Peru, from Wednesday, July 8, to Friday, July 10.

The summer’s first Emmaus Days session, held June 5-8 at King’s House in rural Henry, was for young men who are high school graduates or older. Seventeen men participated in that session.

The next session, for high school junior and senior boys, took place June 26-29 at King’s House with 15 boys attending. Twenty-two freshman and sophomore boys took part in the third session, held July 5-8 at St. Bede Abbey.

The sessions are supervised by Father Brian Brownsey, director of the diocesan vocations office, with the assistance of seminarians who serve as retreat leaders. Bishop Jenky visited each of the sessions, greeting the participants individually, having lunch with them, sharing his own vocation story and answering questions, and celebrating Mass.

Just before lunch on Friday, Bishop Jenky led the retreatants in the Second Sorrowful Mystery of the rosary, also praying the Prayer for Vocations and the Angelus.

The bishop then challenged the boys to a Catholic trivia contest to determine which groups would get to go to lunch first.

After lunch, the boys returned with Bishop Jenky to the Abbey Church, where the bishop shared the story of how God called him to the priesthood.

“God did not write across the wall with his finger, ‘Jenky, be a priest!'” the bishop said. Instead, he discerned his vocation through years of prayer and meditation, wrestling with doubts.

“Three times when I was in seminary, I packed my bags to go home,” Bishop Jenky said.

A question-and-answer session with the Emmaus Days campers followed Bishop Jenky’s talk, with the bishop fielding questions on topics such as his favorite sacraments, strange stories about saints, why he wears a beard, and the funniest thing that has happened to him since his ordination.

The funniest thing, Bishop Jenky said, was probably when he got the call from the papal nuncio in Washington, D.C., telling him that Pope John Paul II was appointing him an auxiliary bishop.

Bishop Jenky was sure someone was pulling a prank on him, and at first he refused to believe the caller’s claim that it was really the papal nuncio.

Without a doubt, the Eucharist is the bishop’s favorite sacrament. Since he has become a bishop, though, ordination is a close second.

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