Preparing Boys for Life.

Post Single

Finding Joy Through Service
David Aspinall '18

Entering the seminary is a big decision in itself. For some Catholic men, the thought of entering the seminary is a struggle since it is considered a major step of discernment, while other men do not even think about entering the seminary, even though they may have a calling buried inside of them. In either case, a long process of discernment and outside guidance is needed to ensure that young Catholic men are considering all of their options. This is where the Vocation Office steps in.

The Vocation Office at St. Charles reaches out to young Catholic men in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and beyond, offering various programs and spiritual guidance to help these men consider the priesthood. The Vocation Office runs Come and See Weekends, summer camps, one-on-one guidance with priests, and many other programs which help young men visualize the priesthood.

As an intern at the Vocation Office, I had the opportunity to contribute ideas and skills to help plan and create certain aspects of the programs that are offered. One program that worked heavily on during my three weeks was Quo Vadis. Quo Vadis is a five-day summer camp for high school boys, composed of playing sports, prayer, celebration of the Mass, talks from role models in the Church, small group discussion, and other activities. It is a program that allows boys to have fun while also witnessing the beauty of the celebration of the sacraments and the life of a priest. “Quo Vadis,” Latin for “where are you going,” refers to the story of St. Peter’s encounter with Jesus. As Peter flees Rome to avoid persecution, Jesus enters Rome which causes Peter to ask, “Quo vadis, Domine,” or “Lord, where are you going?” to which Jesus replies “I am going to Rome to be crucified.” (John 13:36) 

I spent days on condensing, reformatting, redesigning, and researching new material, and I ultimately turned a daunting 120-page manual into a rich and appealing 14-page manual.

Each year, Quo Vadis participants receive a manual that contains prayers, reflections and many other materials that help guide the boys during their five days. My job was to create a new manual for the 2018 Quo Vadis program. The objective was to take the 120-page manual from previous years, condense and redesign it, and include material that was in accordance with the theme of 2018 Quo Vadis. As a high school boy myself, the target audience of the Vocation Office, I had to implement ideas which were appealing to boys my age. Using the knowledge inherited from my four years of art at Haverford, I used Adobe Illustrator to create a new manual. I spent days on condensing, reformatting, redesigning, and researching new material, and I ultimately turned a daunting 120-page manual into a rich and appealing 14-page manual.

Although the 2018 Quo Vadis Manual was my main project, I had other jobs as well. I updated the design of a dinner invitation for newly accepted men to the seminary; reviewed the 2018 Quo Vadis participants’ information and split them into similar groups on Microsoft Excel; condensed a prayer booklet on Adobe Illustrator; sorted documents; contributed ideas for a different summer program that was in the making called Catholic Scholars; and helped film a promotional video for the Called By Name Program. During my three weeks, I had a variety of enriching projects that I contributed to and I had the pleasure of working with kind coworkers whom I truly connected with.

My senior project allowed me to be a positive leader and understand the importance of serving others. I found joy through service rather than personal satisfaction or accomplishment.

At first glance, my internship at the Vocation Office at St. Charles seems like such a narrow focus. However, as I reflect on my three weeks there as well as on my four years at The Haverford School, I can see many deep-rooted similarities. The first similarity is that many of the Essential Qualities of a Haverford School Graduate were embodied in everything that I did at my internship. Every single day I had to think critically and communicate effectively, which is the first essential quality. I had to use my creativity and my critical thinking to craft the 2018 Quo Vadis manual, split the participants into groups based on similarities, and to complete every other task and project that I faced. Even though I worked on these projects alone, I always had questions for my supervisors, whether they preferred certain methods, designs, or formats. Without this effective communication, I would not have been able to produce proper solutions to my projects. My internship at the Vocation Office also promoted the essential quality of possessing an intellectual curiosity and a passion for lifelong learning. During my high school career, I have uncovered my passion for the study of theology. This passion was the very inspiration behind my internship. I feel that I lived out this quality by creating projects centered around my favorite field of study.

Lastly, my senior project allowed me to be a positive leader and understand the importance of serving others. So much of the Catholic Church and faith revolves around serving others. The Vocation Office is a place where employees are motivated by serving others, not by their salaries, which are low to begin with -- and like my coworkers, I found joy through service rather than personal satisfaction or accomplishment. My experience at the Vocation Office was filled with these essential qualities and others which is what made it a complete success.

The most striking part of my experience these past few weeks is the realization that St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and The Haverford School are so similar. Both institutions reach out to boys and help them discover their passions and callings in life.

The most striking part of my experience these past few weeks is the realization that St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and The Haverford School are so similar. Both institutions reach out to boys and help them discover their passions and callings in life. On one of my first days at St. Charles, I witnessed Concursus, the graduation ceremony at the seminary. The graduating seminarians walked proudly down the aisle of the church in their elegant black cassocks, their faces beaming with joy. During my own graduation from The Haverford School, like the seminarians at Concursus, I also walked down the aisle, beaming with joy from the transformative experiences I had at such a special place.