‘Gone Fishing’ - for God
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
January 11, 2018
While some took vacations in the last few weeks, the Vocations Office didn’t, using the time to be “fishers of men.” The annual diocesan winter retreat for young men was a chance for quiet reflection about their futures. And crowd-pleasing antics from priests and seminarians on basketball courts entertained Catholics of all ages during the Christmas season.
ROCKFORD—It was the first time Eric Schreifels of Cary and Brad Fritts of St. Patrick Parish in Dixon gave the annual Vocations Office winter retreat a try.
The “Thy Will Be Done” retreat was held the evening of Dec. 27 until 3 p.m. on the 28th at Bishop Lane Retreat Center. It welcomed high school and college-aged young men, providing times of prayer, talks and opportunities to talk with seminarians and Father Keith Romke, diocesan director of vocations.
Schreifels, who attends Northern Illinois University, said he was “more or less just trying to get guidance toward if this is the vocation I’m being called to.”
Fritts, a senior at Newman Central Catholic High School, was hoping “just to get a better understanding of what my vocation is, whether the priesthood or not.”
Bishop David Malloy celebrated the opening Mass.
The question “for everybody in their life,” he said, “is ‘Lord, what is your will for me?’”
Thanking the around 15 retreatants for taking time over their holiday to come and ask that question, he noted, “We’re here about something really serious ... deeply serious.”
He pointed also to the question that 10-year-old Lucia always asked the Blessed Mother when Mary appeared to her and her two cousins at Fatima, Portugal, some 100 years ago: “What do you want of me?”
“That’s the question we all try to answer all through our lives,” Bishop Malloy said. 
He added that the answer for them might be the “deeply good” one of getting married and having a family, or of taking on some other job and contributing to the world in that way. Or it might be a call to be a priest.
Reflecting on St. John the Evangelist and the “moments when he was a failure,” the bishop called the apostle’s example “a comfort to me” that “God doesn’t call the perfect ... they all have their flaws ... (and John) had a long way to go.”
Most vocation calls required some patience, and Bishop Malloy told the young men not to expect a sudden answer during the retreat, but to trust that if God wants them to be a priest, He will show them.
“If not,” he added, “that’s not negative because ‘You’ll put me where you want me.’”
He encouraged them to develop a prayer life, “a real friendship with Christ.” By getting to know the Lord better, “that (vocation) decision will come.”
Bishop Malloy briefly addressed celibacy, calling it “one of the challenges (and) joys” of priesthood, comparing it to fidelity in marriage which is also “a very good thing.” And he pointed to the benefit of laughing together and making new friends with others who have “some of the same thoughts, wonders that you do.”
Using the time to visit with the seminarians would be beneficial, he said before ending his homily by reminding them it really is “ultimately asking the question: ‘Lord, what is your will for me?’”