Still ablaze in late autumn’s crimson and gold foliage, the Catoctin Mountain grounds at Mount St. Mary’s University and Seminary in Emmittsburg, Md., speak clearly to God’s majestic and profound natural beauty.
On November 9, some 90 diocesan high school boys from five diocesan schools participated in a partial field trip day hosted by Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. Father Joshua Weaver, Diocesan Vocations Director, welcomed the participants outside the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and led the group in an opening prayer before the attendees toured the Grotto and took time to pray and become familiar with the sacred site.
The group gathered in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, where Father Weaver discussed the importance of prayer in discerning God’s will for their lives.
“This chapel is where I first heard the call from the Lord for my priestly vocation. I heard the Gospel reading in Mass and it just stuck to me that God was speaking to me, telling me to follow Him,” Father Weaver said. “This place is a very special place in my life…. It is an awesome, wonderful place and I spent many, many hours praying here.”
During lunch, several of the attendees voiced their sentiments about attending the annual field trip, which has been happening since pre-pandemic and is now a yearly offering during Vocations Awareness Week.
“I really came to just see what a seminary is like,” Eli Mazziott, a senior at York Catholic, said. “I do want to keep my options open, and it is definitely bigger than I thought it would be, which helps to see what it is about.”
York Catholic’s Derek Pimentel came to explore what a seminary looks like, given this was his first time visiting one. “I thought the chapel was very cool and inspiring, but also calming, gives you a nice feeling,” he said.
Troy Kalinoski, a senior at Bishop McDevitt High School, came to the event last year and enjoyed the time to be outside of school to pray and reflect “I just want to keep my options open. At this point, I plan to attend college, but I just want to stay open to options…. I would recommend this day to younger students as it just gives you time to spend time with Christ outside of the normal church atmosphere.”
In a short interview outside the chapel, Father Weaver touched on what he discussed in the breakout sessions after lunch.
“We are super happy with how many young men are here today and I think it is a testament to the deep faith that exists in our Diocese,” Father Weaver said. “We just want to expose them to the possibilities in life because we are all exposed to married life and all know somebody married, but not everybody has an experience of the priesthood. We want to give them that experience.”
“What I tell young people about prayer is be consistent. There are so many competing voices out there in the world today that it is tough to distinguish what is God’s voice and what is my own,” Father Weaver said. “The way you learn to hear God is by spending time with Him and talking with Him…. There are millions of voices out in the world, but if we spend time with Him, we learn what voice is Him.”
The world, Father said, is telling us to do what makes us happy. “The Lord never says that to us; he says come follow me.”
For information about religious vocations in the Diocese, visit www.hbgdiocese.org/vocations.
(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)
By Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness