Where do boys learn how to follow the footsteps of crusader saints and heroes? From June 21 to 29, fifty-eight young Catholic boys participated in the TFP Call to Chivalry Camp held in Abbeville, Louisiana. This year’s camp was blessed with record attendance.
Camp Theme: Catholic Austria-Hungary
The rich Catholic history of the Austria-Hungarian Empire and its saints and heroes gave the boys models to emulate. One lecture, for example, told the story of St. John Capistrano and the Siege of Belgrade, where the Turks were successfully repelled and defeated. Another talk featured St. Clement Mary Hofbauer, a Redemptorist priest who fought the errors of the Enlightenment in Vienna. The life of Andreas Hofer, an innkeeper who valiantly resisted Napoleon’s impious invasion of the Tyrol, gave the boys a new hero to admire.
These talks sparked lively conversation at the dinner table.
The Austria-Hungarian theme was present during outdoor games and the formation of two teams, one under the patronage of St. John Capistrano and the other under St. Clement Mary Hofbauer. Team captains invoked their patrons before each game. “Pray for us!” came the resolute response.
Since the traditional cuisine of a nation reflects its people, the cuisine at the camp reflected the history and Christian culture of Austria-Hungary. Boys savored buttery croissants (Austrian) and were delighted by an authentic Hungarian dinner: goulash and Gerbeaud Cake (Zserbó szelet), a delicious layered cake with apricot and walnut filling covered in chocolate glaze.
The Virtue of Chivalry
Throughout the camp, in talks and daily activities, a heavy emphasis was placed on the importance of chivalry— long-lost virtues needed in our days.
In his talk, Mr. Thomas Drake explained the history and meaning of chivalry, its Ten Commandments, and why men should follow them.
Camp participants were encouraged to memorize the Ten Commandments of Chivalry and those who accepted the challenge had to recite them before a panel of judges. The winner took home a handmade masterpiece: a leather shield bearing the Imperial Coat of Arms of Austria.
The rough and tumble games included chivalrous treatment. Chivalrous behavior was rewarded with extra points and unchivalrous conduct was penalized. Every aspect of the camp was intended to instill this important virtue in the souls of each camp participant—for such is the only way we can hope for a return to a Christian civilization.
Rosary Crusade of Reparation in New Orleans
On June 23, summer tourists in downtown New Orleans were bewildered by an unusual sight: a battalion of boys in medieval scapulars praying the rosary through the streets. Although some liked the display of devotion, it was apparent that the public recitation of the rosary disturbed the comfort zone of other passers-by in one of the most sinful cities in America. Rainbow flags, the symbol of sin, were on full display.
The pilgrimage recalled how – 50 years ago – the International Pilgrim Virgin statue of Our Lady of Fatima* miraculously wept tears in New Orleans in 1972. At that time, newspapers reported on the miracle.
However, far from heeding Our Lady’s message, New Orleans and the world continue to offend God and ignore His commandments. Because of this, the Call to Chivalry camp made the journey to console the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Starting their prayer march in front of St. Louis Cathedral, built by the Spanish in 1794, the boys reached the statue of St. Joan of Arc, reciting the rosary on the way.
At the foot of the saint’s golden statue, camp participants sang a hymn to St. Joan of Arc and recited three Hail Marys in thanksgiving for the reversal of Roe v. Wade.
There was another mission to accomplish before leaving New Orleans. Fortified by Confession and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the boys held a peaceful protest in front of Planned Parenthood on Claiborne Avenue.
Interrupting the rosary, a pro-abortion woman arrived and aggressively yelled and cursed.
She was surprised when the boys did not cower to her violent behavior. On the contrary, their enthusiasm for the God-given right to life only intensified, and the prayers only got louder. Most of the boys considered this trip to be the highlight of the camp.
A Medieval Ending to a Blessed Camp
The last day of the camp featured the medieval games, where two teams competed in various demanding contests. After the demanding games, the boys prepared for the final rosary procession. Carrying medieval flags and singing the hymn “We Want God,” they escorted a statue of Our Lady of Fatima into the grand dining hall, where a medieval banquet was served. The 140-pound pig roasted to perfection by the fathers and the intricate and artistic castle cake made by the mothers mesmerized everyone.
As a memento, each camper received a hand-painted plaque featuring Austria’s Imperial coat of arms.
The boys went home inspired by the Catholic heroes they learned about, the pro-life rosary rally, and the pilgrimage commemorating the 50th anniversary of the miraculous weeping of Our Lady in New Orleans. These events enkindled a fiery zeal for the Catholic Church in their souls. Thus, the Call to Chivalry Camps play a role in forming the next generation of Catholic leaders who will take up the crusader Cross in defense of moral values and Christian civilization.
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt 16:24).
* The World Apostolate of Fatima, USA has custodianship of the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima.