Benedictine Priest Visits Vocations Camp
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
July 26, 2018
ROCKFORD—The third and final diocesan vocation camp in 2018 welcomed Benedictine Father Antony Maria Minardi from Marmion Abbey in Aurora for Mass and a talk on Tuesday, July 17.
As with earlier camps, the First Call Camp looked at the concept of vocation from a wide perspective. The 19 young men attending the July 15-18 camp at Bishop Lane Retreat Center were instructed to be open to God’s possible call to marriage, the single life or to the diocesan or religious priesthood. 
At all the camps, speakers say it is God who knows what is best for each individual.
Vocations events on tap
Although this year’s summer vocation camps are over, plenty of other events for those who are discerning what God wants for them are available throughout the year.

Contact the Vocation Office at 815/399-4300, or go to
In his homily, Father Antony Maria spoke of God’s care for those He calls.
“As long as we give ourselves entirely to Him, God will uphold us,” he said. “Whatever it is God is calling us to, He will give us the strength to bring that good” to fruition.
Following Mass, the priest provided a talk on “Religious Life.” He described the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience as efforts “to more fully imitate Christ Himself,” pointing to the Savior as someone who never married, who had no place to lay his head and who was obedient to the Father. 
He also spoke about his community’s approach to a “daily conversion ... each and every day,” explaining the need to “continuously strive” to grow spiritually, while avoiding extremes of becoming overburdened or indulging laziness.
More often than not, religious men and women live in community, he said, calling that a “very important part of what makes a religious vocation” and adding that one’s religious community both uplifts its members and presents them with challenges. He called those inevitable difficulties as something that “helps us grow in the virtues ... it’s painful but they can be growing pains ...
“A good part of a religious vocation is recognizing that we can’t do it alone. We need God (and) we also need the support of others around us.”
Each religious order is different, Father Antony said, but there are three basic types: contemplatives like Benedictines and Trappists who focus on prayer for the Church; missionary orders like Franciscans, Dominicans and Jesuits who are often teachers and preachers; and hermits who live by themselves and dedicate their lives to prayer and work for the Church.
Father Antony also described the basics of a Benedictine monk’s day with its scheduled community prayers, individual prayer times, work done morning and evening, and regular recreation. 
In response to campers’ questions, Father Antony shared additional nuts-and-bolts of life at Marmion Abbey, including their visitors’ policy, vow of stability and annual vacations. The monks’ primary duties include teaching at Marmion Academy, farm and grounds work, “odd jobs around the house,” and parish work, he said, adding, “There’s always something to do.”
People may understand the work of missionary orders but often don’t understand the value of a life of prayer, Father Antony said.
Quoting a theologian, he explained that those religious who spend their lives in prayer are able, through the power of prayer, to reach people whose hearts are hard and far from God. 
The world needs missionaries, he said, but it also needs people to pray for those with hardened hearts.
Father Antony’s talk was followed by an outdoor game, prayer and a picnic cookout. The afternoon brought two more talks, small groups, free time, prayer and dinner. The evening featured a holy hour, trivia contest and a bonfire with snacks.
Transitional deacon Robert Blood was among the seminarians who worked at the two vocation camps for young men.
“One of my favorite moments is when we have adoration and confession,” he says, describing campers who “hesitantly walk over to the confessional and then kind of float back (after confession) and go to adoration.”
The seminarians “share themselves — their own stories,” he says, noting they provide most of the talks and give the camps “a spirit of friendship” in their interactions with each other.
“We’ve all been there,” he says of the vocation journey. “A lot of growth is needed before we can take ‘big steps.’ (But) ‘little steps’ are important too ...
“The Lord does the heavy lifting.”