Quo Vadis helps young men discern a call to the priesthood

Garett Burns left the Quo Vadis retreat in 2011 knowing he would never become a seminarian.

But the Holy Spirit had a different direction for his life. A month later the college sophomore was at the Chancery requesting that he be accepted as a seminarian. He was ordained in 2018.

“The Lord uses Quo Vadis in one way or another,” said Fr. Garett Burns, who is now the director for Vocational Promotion.

The Quo Vadis (Latin for “Where are you going?”) retreat will be held Friday through Sunday, Dec. 29-31, at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita.

Men up to age 30 invited

“It is a discernment retreat for men – juniors in high school through those 30 years old – who are open to the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood, the diocesan priesthood especially,” he said. “We’re inviting them to come together for a weekend.”

Fr. John Dietrich, a former director of Spiritual Formation at Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, will serve as the retreat master. He is now the pastor of St. Matthew Church in Forestville, Connecticut.

Fr. Burns said Fr. Dietrich will make several presentations that will generate conversations among the participants, help them understand their masculinity, will deepen their prayer life, and help them listen for God’s call in their lives.

Discern with a priest

“There will also be time for prayer and the Sacrament of Confession as well as an opportunity for what we call Emmaus Walks,” he said. “Different priests will come in and have an opportunity to walk with these young men, these discerners, to talk a little bit more one-on-one about what’s going on in their life, in their prayer life, where the Lord is leading them, so that from their experience and wisdom they can show them those next steps.”

The weekend helps those men who may be considering the priesthood know that they aren’t alone in their discernment, Fr. Burns said. “It helps them know I’m not the only guy thinking about this and having these fears and questions and doubts. It can be that opportunity for the Lord to touch their hearts and say, okay, I’m going to go for this. I really want to take those next steps to maybe apply for seminary.”

It’s not a hard-sell weekend

Fr. Burns said the weekend is not a hard-sell, but a tool to help participants grow in prayer. “The Lord wants our cooperation and to take a bold step to say ‘I’m going to do this!’ I’m going to give you a weekend, Lord in openness and trust you know what’s best for me.”

The first Quo Vadis retreat in the Diocese of Wichita was held in 1995 with then-Father Michael Jackels as one of the speakers. Five years later he would later become bishop of the Diocese of Wichita.