A guest article with Fr. Patrick Seo, Associate Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Newark
When I attended Bergen Catholic High School, we had a hockey team that was ranked #2 in the nation—second, somehow, only to some school in Minnesota that we never played. One year, we went to the state finals, and there were countless Bergen Catholic Crusader fans in red-and-gold, sitting in the seats together (more like standing and jumping and cheering hysterically as we destroyed the other team 10-1). It was very easy and fun to be a Bergen Catholic fan surrounded by so many other Bergen Catholic fans on that day. Another time, however, I went to an away football game and there were only a few scattered red-and-gold jerseys in the stands among the sea of the opposing team’s green and black. And although I was a die-hard Bergen Catholic fan, it was much harder to be enthusiastic sitting there unsupported and isolated, feeling alone.
Vocations Ministry is everyone’s job. Not only are each of us called to follow God’s will ourselves in our own particular Vocations to Consecrated, Ordained, or Married Life, we are each also called to go out and invite others to discern God’s will in their own lives.
Recently, I was appointed as the Associate Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese
of Newark, and I attended the annual National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors. One of the speakers pointed out that in a poll of priests, the majority responded that one of the major factors leading to their considering the priesthood was that their Pastor approached them and said something to the effect of “You’d be a great priest,” or “Ever thought about becoming a priest?” It is so important to have Pastors who are vocationally minded! As important as that is, however, if there is only one Pastor who says you could be a great priest, in the end, it’s merely the opinion of one random guy. But when another person also says it, and then another, and another, it is no longer the opinion of one person, but a group of people. Now it’s the Church inviting you to consider a vocation. It’s a sea of fans cheering you on to follow Christ. Even if you are a young man hesitant or resistant to the idea of becoming a priest, monk, or friar, or a young woman hesitant to becoming a nun or sister, you will not be able to help at least starting to think, “Hm…maybe the Lord is calling me!”
While there are two of us priests in the Office of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Newark, Vocations Ministry is not the work of only two. Vocations Ministry is everyone’s job. Not only are each of us called to follow God’s will ourselves in our own particular Vocations to Consecrated, Ordained, or Married Life, we are each also called to go out and invite others to discern God’s will in their own lives. Like the Bergen Catholic fans that donned red and gold to show their unity and support, we are called to root for others as they discern their vocation.
"...we are called to root for others as they discern their vocation."
But what does this look like? For Pastors, it includes approaching young men and women about their vocations, preaching about vocations, and praying for vocations at the end of Masses. For parishes and schools, vocations ministries are key and can include different subgroups. For example, groups that pray daily to the Lord for “laborers into his harvest” (cf. Matt 9:37-38); groups with members dedicated to approaching men and women who they perceive would live well as priests, monks, or nuns; groups that teach, equip, and walk with young men and women in discerning God’s will.
For myself, my dream is to have a Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Chapel in each of the 4 counties of the Archdiocese of Newark. I tell people that I am not the Vocations Director—that’s God! God calls, God prepares, God gives us all that we need to fulfill the mission of our Vocation. Thus, to a young man or woman who has become serious enough to want to know God’s will and want it for themselves, I say, “Don’t come to me; go to Jesus.” He left us Himself Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. Go to Him every day. Spend time with Him every day. Every day, ask the One in the Eucharist who created you and loves you to death what amazing life He calls you to in your vocation. Because regardless of if other people are encouraging you, regardless of if it is many or few, there is no greater fan of your discernment than Jesus.
Every day, ask the One in the Eucharist who created you and loves you to death what amazing life He calls you to in your vocation.
May God bless you in your discernment and vocations! Mary, the Mother of Vocations, pray for us! Go all of you who are Bergen Catholic fans! But most especially, go all of you who are discerning God’s will in your lives! We are cheering for you!
This article is the continuation of a blog series which will seek to highlight the many ministries and communities around the world which we are blessed to call friends.
Fr Patrick Bio: Fr. Patrick Seo is the Associate Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Newark. He was born in Brooklyn and raised in Englewood Cliffs attending public schools, Bergen Catholic High School, until he Thomas Aquinas College in California. For a while, he went down the path of Medicine going to Northwestern University in Evanston, IL for a 1-year post-baccalaureate premedical program, 1 year of research at Rockefeller University in NYC, and then attended Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia until he felt the call to leave in his third year to discern his vocation to consecrated life and then eventually diocesan priesthood. He entered Immaculate Conception Seminary in 2013 and was ordained to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ in 2017 in which he served as Parochial Vicar and Administrator at Our Lady of Mercy in Park Ridge; as Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary / St. Michael’s in Elizabeth; and presently, he serves as Associate Director of Vocations.