Catholic Missourian Profile

In anticipation of ordination our diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Missourian, publishes a profile piece on every ordinand to the diaconate and priesthood.

Given that this week is the week I will be ordained to the diaconate, they ran a profile on me in their most recent issue.

For those that don’t live in the diocese and get the paper edition, I thought I’d pass on the link to the story on the diocesan website. 

Look for more posts later in the week as the big day approaches.

Camp Maccabee to offer young men chance to grow in faith, July 25-29

This article originally appeared in the Catholic Missourian published the week of June 27-July 3.

By Geoffrey A. Brooke Jr.

Teenage boys living in 2010 face unprecedented challenges when it comes to growing into strong Catholic men.

In 2009, the Diocese of Jefferson City launched a program to help teens make that transition into Catholic adulthood.

This year, Camp Maccabee will be held July 25-29 in Starkenburg. The camp is open to any Catholic male who will be entering ninth through 12th grade in the fall.

Registration is open until July 10. Anyone interested can contact the Diocesan Youth Ministry Office or speak with their parish priest.

“It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life,” said Forrest Brown of St. Patrick parish in Rolla, about deciding to attend Camp Maccabee last year.

He said his favorite part of the camp was one of the talks given on the four Cardinal Virtues.

“It really inspired me to become a better person,” he said.

Those four Cardinal Virtues — justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude — form the core foundation of Camp Maccabbee. Each evening, there is a talk and discussion focusing on one of the virtues. Other talks focus on issues such as dating and developing a strong prayer life.

“I had a lot to think about, about what they had said, and how it related to me, and how I could use that out in the world,” said Cameron Degraff of St. Frances Cabrini parish in Paris, about all of the talks that he heard while attending Camp Maccabee.

Campers and staff gather to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, the prayer of the Catholic Church, in both the morning and evening. Daily Mass is also a part of the day, in addition to opportunities for adoration, the Rosary and confession — all offered at various points throughout the camp.

However, Camp Maccabee is a camp and not a retreat. The days consist of various outdoor activities. One day the campers travel to the Johnson Shut-ins as well as going hiking at Elephant Rocks State Park.

Perhaps the unanimous favorite activity among the campers in 2009 was the daylong float trip. When interviewed, several of the campers said it was the highlight.

“It brought us a lot closer together,” said Daniel Galarza of Immaculate Conception parish in St. James.

The outdoor activities combined with the evening discussions allowed the students to develop friendships with young men from around the diocese. Despite living far apart, they have been able to keep in touch through Facebook as evidenced by a group created just for the camp.

“We knew each other like we’d known each other for a couple years,” said Mr. Galarza.

These lasting friendships allow for the messages and lessons learned at Camp Maccabee to stay with the young men long after the camp is over. At the completion of the 2009 Camp Maccabee, Garret Trammel of St. Joseph parish in Canton said he was “definitely coming back next year.”

Mr. Galarza didn’t want to leave. “I just wish we could be here longer,” he said.

Mr. Trammel described his experience at the camp as “just having a blast and incorporating God in all of it.”

The camp is staffed by Father Bill Peckman, pastor of St. Clement parish in Bowling Green; Father David Veit, newly appointed pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Macon and Sacred Heart mission in Bevier; and Father Joe Corel, director of youth ministry and vocations director for the diocese. Joining them are a team of adults, college students and seminarians.

DVDs with more information and personal testimonies have been sent to parishes in the diocese for those seeking to learn more about Camp Maccabee.

March For Life testimonies

On the way back from the March for Life in Washington D.C. All of the pilgrims, including seminarians had the opportunity to reflect upon and share their experiences with those on their buses. Thanks to the hard work of Jay Nies, editor of the Catholic Missourian. Transcripts of these testimonies have been made available.

Here are the testimonies given by some of the seminarians:

Nicholas J. Reid, Theology III, Theological College at the Catholic University of America

(Why is this important?)

The pro-life movement and this march is important because it shows that there are so many people concerned about DOING something to promote our cause when it seems that we’re stagnant. It’s beautiful for me to see so many Midwestern faces and all the people who make the EFFORT to come out to D.C.

For many people in Missouri, the federal government seems so distant. 12 or 14 hours away. So it’s great to see so many people from Jeff. City come out.

(What should we pray for?)

An end to abortion and for people’s hearts to be opened to not only giving birth and being open to life but to supporting life in making the small decisions to support life, as well. The many ‘yesses.’

Colin Franklin, Theology II, Theological College at the Catholic University of America

I’m just impressed with the diversity of the groups that are here and just the sheer numbers. It’s great to see it. Particularly given that abortion is legal as it is, someone who believes that abortion is wrong but doesn’t say anything only helps them maintain the status quo. So the more voices we can get out there and the more presence we can get out there, the better we’ll do.

(What was your impression of the Mass?)

It’s very moving. For one thing, it’s much longer than a normal Mass is. But during the whole thing, there was a very prayerful attitude. And to see that many people come together after traveling, after being exhausted, and they’re willing to stand in a group like that, and just to pray that long and just with that many of our fellow Catholics was just a very great, moving experience.

Geoff Brooke, College III, Conception Seminary College

I went to the University of Missouri for the last two years. So I’m with the St. Thomas More Newman Center in Columbia.

This was my first opportunity to ever attend the march.

I heard about it but never had a chance to go. So when the time came, I sent in my sign-up form as soon as I could.

Two weeks ago, I was in a pretty nasty car wreck. I wasn’t sure I was going to go. And some people thought I shouldn’t go, some thought I should.

Well, thanks be to God, I was okay and I was able to make it out and come here, and I was very grateful for that opportunity.

I have lived in a lot of places. I have family that lives all over the country. So I randomly happen to know a lot of people. And one of the most beautiful experiences for me when I go to things like this and to NCYC is to experience the universality if the Church. Getting to run into friends I haven’t seen for months from New Orleans or for years from St. Louis, all of them standing there marching.

There was a group that came up praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet behind me, and I heard a voice I kind of recognized, and I turned around and saw a friend I hadn’t seen for over a year.

The opportunity like that to grow as a community, as the Body of Christ, as we marched together and stood up for something that we all believe in was a very powerful experience for me.

Also, the Mass the night before. I’ve had many friends say they’ve been to the Mass and it was a very overwhelming experience spiritually. I thought that was a beautiful way to begin the trip, to remember that in the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass, that we use that to begin this pilgrimage, not only in Jefferson City but also as we got to Washington, D.C. before we took off to march.

I did a retreat in high school for eighth grade confirmation students. The theme of the retreat was talk the talk and Walk the walk. And I believe our prayers offered up during the Sacrifice of the Mass the night before, we were able to get the strength, even though we were tired and exhausted, to get the strength from the receiving of the Body of Christ in the Eucharist to walk the walk the next day. And I’m very grateful for that opportunity.

And I’m very grateful to have met a lot of you, because I haven’t lived year-round in the diocese very long. So it’s very nice to get to meet more and more people when I go to things like this.

David Bauer, College III, Conception Seminary College

This is the third march for Life that I’ve been on. And I used to … before this school year, I used to work at a pregnancy resource center in Rolla.

I saw how young people were who came in there who were expecting it to be a place where they can get an abortion. And I saw the young people who came in there without the knowledge of what they had inside of them.

And I just want to say that this trip always really gives me hope about the future because I’m able to see the wide variety of age groups that are here at the march, especially the young people, to see that they’re here fighting for what they believe in, and they’re doing it in such a way that they are suffering. They have physical pains and they’re tired and they want some sleep. But they have a smile on their face because they know what they’re fighting for.

It’s really hopeful to see what our future is, with the people at the parish.

Chris Aubuchon, College IV, Conception Seminary College

These experiences are always very profound for me.

The pro-life march, when you hear that, what thought comes to your mind?

I always think of God’s children. When I think of pro-life, I think of God’s children and what a blessing they are for each of us, and how much God loves each of His children, each of us — the unborn and each of those who are unborn.

And all of those who die. And how unfathomable his love is for each of us. And how we need to be an advocate of that love by partaking in events such as the pro-life march.

At school, we have a pro-life committee that a student from the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese started. This is the third year of it. And I got involved fairly quickly in that. I had a leadership position that I handed over because it’s my last year there.

And I was part of the pro-life prayer group. And one of the profound experiences we would have is, once a month on Saturday, we would go to Planned Parenthood and pray a full rosary, once a month on Saturdays.

We’d get up at 4:30 in the morning. We’d drive to Kansas City, about two hours and get there at about 6:30. It was still fairly dark. And we start praying the rosary. There’s usually about 10 of us that go. There are two shifts. The second shift is usually about 5:30 when they leave.

But when we get there, it’s amazing the number of people that pour in there on Saturday morning. A lot of the appointments are at like 7 or 8. And people are getting there very early in the morning. And it’s a lot of young people.

And it hits you right in the heart, how they think this is their only option. Or they think that this is what’s best for them. Or more times than not, they’re pressured into it, or they’re scared.

And you just see people go in there. And while we’re standing there praying, it can bring tears to your eyes, just how powerful that experience is, seeing that, and they look, at times, they’ll look over us if they’re brave, and they have to question in their hearts why people would be praying outside this place.

Why is that? We don’t see people outside Walmart praying like that, or other places. Why are they here, praying outside this place?

And there are also people there, adults, that give out information, pro-life information while we’re standing there praying. Or they try to. They reach out and every once in a while, someone will take that and they will read that.

And by the grace of God, every now and then, they will turn around and won’t go in.

That doesn’t happen super-often. They take the stuff more than they turn around. But at least that much is happening. But that experience is always very profound. And it’s kind of like the pro-life march. It’s somewhat sacrificial. This is more sacrificial. It’s longer and more involved and things. But it’s always a very profound experience to imagine what we’re doing, and to think how important this really is — the impact we can make on lives.

Another big thing for me is, when we’re marching, how huge the number of people who are there. 400 or 500,000 people.

Sometimes you feel alone in this battle. I know at school a lot of times, especially in the pro-life group, we feel alone at times in the battle, like we’re the only ones praying for this.

We obviously know that’s not true, but it feels like that sometimes.

But when you go there and you see 400 or 500 thousand people standing up for this cause, especially the young people, how amazing that truly is to see that impact. It’s a beautiful gift from God, and people recognize that.

People talk about how priests touch people’s lives, seminarians touch people’s lives. Well you all touch our lives just as much if not more. Any priest and any seminarian will tell you that. You have remember that you all give back to us. And that’s what keeps us going, that’s what keeps fueling us.