Prayer and Action
Pace Ebbs and Flows at Jeremiah Days Camp for Boys
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
July 19, 2018
ROCKFORD—Morning prayer and Mass were followed by impromptu games with balls and Frisbees on Monday morning at the Jeremiah Days Vocation Camp at Bishop Lane Retreat Center. 
This camp for boys going into seventh to ninth grades moved from times of action to quieter activities — prayer, talks and sharing — and back to physical activity again throughout its July 8-11 schedule.
After several minutes of kicking the balls around, campers were rounded up for a talk by seminarian John McFadden on “Vocation in Daily Life” followed by small group or team sessions where they shared their thoughts with a few fellow campers and seminarians. Then the entire group of 24 campers and nine seminarians trooped up the hill to enjoy a little competition in an obstacle course.
Transitional deacon, Rev. Mr. Robert Blood, gave the homily at the Mass, which was celebrated by Father Kyle Manno, new-this-year diocesan vocation director. 
Blood began with the thought that “guys want to be heroes” and make a difference in the world. That desire for greatness, he said, remains as a person develops and grows, and it can influence how men discern God’s will for them.
Once they begin to listen and consider how God might be calling them, they will notice more and more that God does amazing things, Blood said, pointing to the day’s Gospel for the “first step” of discernment.
In that Gospel, Jesus arrives at a house where a young girl has died. First thing, Blood said, “Jesus tells the commotion to stop.” And so, the Jeremiah Days’ mix of activities is separated by times of quiet when the noise stops, he said.
McFadden provided basic steps in his talk for the campers to become “well-rounded” men, ready for any vocation.
His tips included the need to learn how to encounter people — not just meet them.
“There’s so much that makes up each person,” he said, recommending that they “get out of the habit of one-word answers to questions,” and put down their phones often to look into the eyes of those people whom “God wants (us) to encounter in front of (us).”
Becoming “unplugged,” he added, also helps a person’s ability to talk to God.
McFadden also counseled them to practice “small acts of kindness” both to merit grace and help them to grow in generosity. Efforts to comply with requests and even anticipate what someone else needs can be done with a “This is for you (Jesus)” approach, he said. Such acts will be beneficial, he said, “whether you become a priest or get married,” and a kind act done when no one will notice “is something even better.”
“Time is one of the most valuable things you can give,” he said, adding that their abundant energy could be used selfishly or to build up the kingdom of God.
Other talks at the camp, each given by a different seminarian, included “Vocation Through Prayer and Mary,” “Vocation Through Eucharist,” “Vocation and Manhood/Chastity,” and “Vocation Through Family Life.” 
Additionally, monks from Marmion Abbey spoke on “Religious Life,” sharing about their lives as Benedictines.
Numerous other activities, such as games and cookouts, keep all three vocations camps offered through the Rockford Diocese Vocation Office feeling like most summer camps — with a difference.
“If you feel God wants more time with you, come to the chapel,” seminarian Blood told the campers at Monday Mass. “Ultimately, He is the camp director.”