Priests can snowboard. And take selfies with the Swiss Guard.
Those are just two of the insights gained by Patrick Corcoran at the third annual Vocations Camp at Camp Abbey Feb. 27 to March 1.
“I always thought priests couldn’t have fun,” he said.
He learned differently during one game, when he found out that Father Kurt Young, vocations director of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, had been snowboarding, skydiving and did indeed take a selfie with the Swiss Guard.
Corcoran, a seventh grader at St. Edward the Confessor School in Metairie, said he was pleasantly surprised to learn that priests aren’t all pray and no play. And, he enjoyed more at the camp.
“I liked visiting the (St. Joseph) Abbey,” he said. “We talked with seminarians and prayed the living rosary. ... I made a bunch of friends.”
His mother, Cherie Corcoran, was happy to give her son exposure to vocations. “It helps him to see all aspects of vocation,” she said. “He can see that priests aren’t in church all the time.”
Nearly 40 fifth through eighth graders took part in the camp, playing games, sharing prayers, roasting marshmallows and listening to stories about the calling to priesthood and religious life.
“I hope the youth will take away an appreciation for religious life and the priesthood,” Father Young said. “I hope they will go home and begin to consider the possibility of God’s call to religious life and priesthood in their own lives.”
Teresian Sister Marina Aranzabal took the girls to the Teresian convent near Camp Abbey, while Father Steve Bruno escorted the boys to St. Joseph Abbey and Seminary College.
“The camp gives children the opportunity to think about the vocation to priesthood and religious life,” Sister Marina said. “And it helps them think about it in a fun way. It’s vocation talks plus camp with songs and games.”
Mary Butzman, 11, a homeschooled sixth grader, enjoyed the weekend.
“It helped me think about vocations, about what God is calling us to do, to listen for our special connection to God,” she said.
Her friend, Olivia Charbonnet, 10, a homeschooled fifth grader, enjoyed the trip to the Teresian Center.
“Sister (Maria) Isabel (Ordono) told us this story about growing up in Cuba,” Olivia said. “She was about to get married, but God called her to be a nun.”
Olivia also loved that the nuns have a chapel in their house. “It’s like living in church!”
Father Young was happy with the weekend. “I am thankful for the alumni of St. John Prep for starting this camp,” he said. “It helps the children see that God calls everyone to a particular vocation. That’s what this was about, encouraging them to pray and ask God, ‘What are you calling me to do?’”
At camp’s end on Sunday, Archbishop Gregory Aymond celebrated Mass, and they learned more about listening for God’s call in their hearts.
For vocation information, call the vocations office at 861-6298.