It was a close call, but the Red Hot Warrior Fire Chickens emerged as victor of the Water Olympics at Kenrick-Glennon Days.
With games including Raft Wars, the Zeüberslide, and Hit the Deck (a water-based version of Hungry Hippos), the Olympics are one of the major highlights of the annual camp, which introduces middle-school boys to the archdiocesan seminary. Kenrick-Glennon Days is supported by the Annual Catholic Appeal.
Simon Klein, a rising sixth-grader at St. Raphael School in St. Louis, came to the camp with two friends, hoping to see what the seminary was like. This was his first time visiting. “It’s way bigger than I thought,” he said. “It’s a cool place, and it’s got a lot of cool statues and stuff.”
Kenrick-Glennon Days is just one of several vocational opportunities for young men thinking about the priesthood. The weeklong camp, which began in 1999, is divided into two sessions: one for rising sixth- and seventh-graders; the second is for incoming eighth- and ninth-graders. After a hiatus last year because of the pandemic, attendance this year was 55 for the first session, and 58 for the second session.
In addition to the seminarian staff, there were 32 high schoolers volunteering as junior counselors. The staffers attend a day of recollection before camp begins. Throughout the week, campers have opportunities to discern where God is calling them — and for some, if that call might involve entering the seminary.
“The whole mission is to provide an opportunity for young Catholic boys to meet the seminarians and spend time at the seminary, so that some day in the future, if God is calling one of their friends or them to consider seminary, it’s not something that would seem unusual,” said Father Brian Fallon, archdiocesan vocations director, who attended his first Kenrick-Glennon Days in 2000. “Creating a culture of vocations starts with being able to meet those who are responding to God’s call.”
Quite a few priests who were ordained in the past 20-plus years have attended the camp, where they developed friendships at a young age. Father Fallon shared stories of the time he and Fathers Charlie Samson and Tom Vordtriede ran the camp, with Fathers Mitchell Baer and Joe Detwiler — who were ordained in May — attending as high schoolers.
Seminarian Robbie Lawson, who recently completed Theology II and will be entering his pastoral year, began participating in the camp when he entered Cardinal Glennon College. “It’s important to show them that the seminary is a normal place,” he said. “This is a home, we have fun, we have good food, and we hang out together — but we also pray together. Even if these kids don’t think they have a (priesthood) vocation, we’re at least putting that thought in their head.”
In addition to the Water Olympics, campers participated in team-building exercises, Mass and confessions, night walks with seminarians, talks on topics such as baptismal call and becoming future saints, and Catholic Jeopardy.
Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski also visited campers, presenting the Archbishop’s Cup — a large trophy overflowing with candy — to the winners of the Water Olympics. His previous diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts, did not have a seminary, so the experience was a new one for him as the leader of a diocese. Greeting campers in the refectory at dinner time, the archbishop asked how their experience had been so far. “It’s great to be with all of you gathered here,” he said. “I know these Kenrick-Glennon Days are wonderful times and a time to get together and enjoy this wonderful time. It’s so great that we’re able to gather together.”
Andrew Glassman, a rising sixth-grader who attends homeschool, had the opportunity to shake the archbishop’s hand, which he said “was awesome” but also “nerve-wracking.”
“Honestly, it’s been great,” said the parishioner at St. Joseph in Imperial. “Everybody here is super nice. I can’t choose a part that’s my favorite.”