Fiat Family Fest: A Catholic family weekend like no other
COLORADO SPRINGS. Seeing a need when they moved to Colorado Springs 14 years ago, Sean and Jenny Vostatek founded Joyfully Catholic, a ministry to strengthen Catholic marriages and families. One of Joyfully Catholic’s largest initiatives is Fiat Family Fest, a Catholic family camp held each Labor Day weekend at the Ponderosa Retreat and Conference Center in Larkspur. This summer, Fiat Family Fest will be held Sept. 1-3, with around 350 retreatants expected to attend.
Families can rent a cabin, tent camp, park their RV on the grounds, or — due to the proximity to Colorado Springs — stay overnight in the comfort of their own homes. There’s morning and afternoon programming for different age groups with local and national Catholic speakers, afternoon free time for recreation, a family-friendly evening activity, and opportunities for Mass, confession, and adoration. Campers can roast marshmallows over a nightly bonfire, play organized sports and pray the rosary. Each evening concludes with a separate program specifically designed for teenagers.
“The family camp originated to serve families specifically in the Diocese of Colorado Springs, however people have come year after year from all around the country,” said Jenny Vostatek, who is the director. “One of the things we hear over and over again is just how excited and renewed families feel after the retreat,” she said. “Families are here to share a weekend set apart with other individuals who are also trying to live the Catholic faith and the richness of the sacraments. Families depart with this renewed energy to return to their homes and parishes to begin evangelizing there.”
“While most Catholic retreats are specifically designed for men, women or children, this is a unique weekend specifically designed for the family,” said Father Nathan Cromly, CSJ, the retreat master. “Our mission is to bring the whole family together to grow in their relationships and the Catholic faith. It is exciting to see parents, children and teens all united, being challenged to live boldly apart from the world. The whole family is forever changed by this experience.”
Corpus Christi parishioner Jessica Schlick has attended Fiat Family Fest with her family multiple times over the years.
“Our kids look forward to this weekend every year,” Schlick said. “In our household, it’s called ‘Fire Family Fiat’ because we come home reignited to be witnesses to the truth. We come together as a Catholic community and share in a mission to fight for the greater good.”
This Labor Day weekend, their sixth in a row, Schlick and her family will once again return to Fiat Family Fest.
Sean Vostatek, event coordinator for the retreat, believes he discovered the keys to bettering his family life from this faith-filled weekend.
“Father Nathan has summoned all families to create a mission statement and that has forever changed our family. He showed us what it means to be a holy family and inspired us to make this fest a recurring Labor Day weekend event,” he said.
“We have not seen anyone who is doing what is being done here,” Vostatek said. “Only at Fiat Family Fest will you find teen and children catechesis tracks taught by some of the strongest religious orders around. We are excited to bring back to the fest not only Bishop James Golka, but consecrated religious from across the country representing seven different communities. Nowhere else are you going to find a retreat like this one.”
Registration for the 2023 camp is now open. For more information or to register, visit www.fiatfamilyfest.org.