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Meet the newest seminarians

First slide

Get to know the diocese’s newest seminarians as the church celebrates National Vocation Awareness Week Nov. 1-7. 

God reset my priorities

Joseph Angsten--St. John Paul II Seminary in Washington

College II

Why seminary? After leaving college, I had several years where my faith was not my priority. I prayed to God to reset my priorities, and he awoke in me such a fire for him and my Catholic faith. I experienced his overwhelming love in my heart, and knew I had to respond to that love in some way. Through discernment and spiritual direction, God has generously led me to seminary.

Hardest thing to leave behind? Probably my friends. I enjoyed a fruitful period of discernment and had amazing friends who were an integral part of that. They rejoice at where I am, but I miss our weekly outings, adventures and (in-person) conversations.

Hidden talents? I dabble with voice impressions, but I don’t see myself delivering a homily as Scooby-Doo. I also used to fence (yes, with swords) and play soccer (without swords). 

God has ink by the barrel

Paul Fischer--Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.

Theology III

Hardest thing to leave behind? The familiar routine, and sense of setting one's agenda. In the seminary, there are bells that remind you the agenda is no longer yours to determine. (I should add that this is actually a return to the seminary in my case, after an absence of many years, in fact going back to Bishop John R. Keating's time. Proof of the adage that God writes straight with crooked lines, and also has ink by the barrel full!) 

Early career planning? At age 5, probably sandbox construction crew foreman. When that turned out to be only temporary work, like every boy in the Chicago parochial school I attended, I would one day pitch for the White Sox. We never figured out how the Sox would keep a couple hundred pitchers (of extremely varying talent) on the roster.

Fun facts? I was privileged to be in the presence of both Mother Teresa when she opened a house for the Missionaries of Charity in Chicago, and Pope John Paul II when he offered Mass at Camden Yards in Baltimore.

Proud Irishman

Peter Foeckler--St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa.

Pre-Theology I

Hardest thing to leave behind? My casual answer would be my kitchen. I'm no chef, but I love the kitchen for cooking, chatting or having a cup of coffee. My serious answer would be my family and friends. However, I'm with them in my prayers and I know I'll be back in the diocese before too long.

Early career planning? When I was little, I wanted to be an astronaut. I still jokingly hold out hope that space travel might be a vacation option within my lifetime.

Family or cultural tradition? My maternal grandparents were Irish and were married on St. Patrick's Day, so we would always get the extended family together to celebrate their anniversary and the holiday together. Although my grandparents have passed away, we still celebrate when we can with some delicious food, Irish music and the movie “The Quiet Man.”

Card trickster

Jim Harbour--Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.

Pre-Theology I

Hardest thing to leave behind? My Youth Apostles home and community for the past five years in McLean, where I’ve been living with 10-plus men striving together to pray, minister and grow in virtue. In that sense, it is not all that different from seminary, but I certainly miss my brothers there.

Early career planning? I was all over the place as a kid, wanting to be a doctor, a vet and an engineer. My mother always reminds me that there was a time as a toddler that I told everyone that I wanted to grow up and become a priest. Funny how things work out in the end.

Family or cultural tradition? I love New Year’s Eve. I have been blessed with a lot of cousins, and at the end of the calendar year we all meet up at my grandmother’s home in Kentucky. We buy some huge fireworks, and blast them off for the whole neighborhood to enjoy right after midnight. It’s a wonderful tradition that I hope will keep on going for many years.

Hidden talents? I am fairly good with card tricks. Hopefully I don’t scare anyone with my “magic.”

Following the Korean martyrs

Donghan Lee--Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.

Pre-Theology I

Why seminary? When I learned about seminary formation in the Quo Vadis group, I always wanted to experience seminarian life. It will be a great preparation for life after ordination. Even if I don’t become a priest at the end, a seminarian lifestyle will teach me a great lesson.

Favorite pastimes? Beatbox, calligraphy, video games and listening to music.

Fun facts? I was born in Seoul, South Korea, and lived there until 2008. My family moved to Centreville when I was 12 years old. My favorite saint is St. Andrew Kim Taegon, the first ordained Korean priest. It’s amazing how he helped Koreans practice Catholicism even before the missionaries came to spread Christianity.

Wegmans fan

Sean Mazary--Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.

Pre-Theology I

Hardest thing to leave behind? I’ve actually had two stages of “leaving behind.” Two years ago I left my job to make a consecrated commitment in the Youth Apostles community. This was difficult because I loved my job but ultimately I knew God had a greater plan for me. Then last summer when leaving for seminary, I had to say goodbye to the teens at Holy Trinity parish in Gainesville where I have volunteered the past two years. Serving there was such a great way to bring young people to Christ and to grow in my own love for the Lord.

Fun facts/hidden talents? I enjoy cooking and I used to work for Wegmans. If I can have Wegmans cater every parish event possible, I probably will. If there is a way to incorporate Wegmans into my priesthood, I will find it.

Advice for someone feeling called? Take action. If you feel even a small inclination that the Lord may be calling you to explore the priesthood, talk to people around you. Ask a good friend what they think. Talk to a priest and ask him whatever is on your mind. Above all, spend time in prayer. Try to attend Mass more often throughout the week. Spend time in adoration, listening quietly with an open heart.

Dedicated to Youth Apostles

Eric McDade--Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.

Pre-Theology I

Hardest thing to leave behind? In September 2018 I made a consecrated commitment in the Youth Apostles (similar to the commitment made by a religious brother or sister) after being involved with the group for more than 20 years. I’ve resided at the Youth Apostles' McLean house for many years and I miss the companionship of the brothers who live there.

Early career planning? When I was around 5, I went through a phase where I was fascinated with magic. I purchased a number of magic books/kits and wanted to be a magician. 

Family or cultural tradition? On my Dad’s side it’s the Fourth of July, at a house in Catonsville, Md., minutes from the parade route. There’s great food (a McDade tradition) and lots of patriotic attire (red, white and blue). On Mom's side, there’s an annual beach week going for more than 50 years (we now squeeze 25 of us into a house on the Delaware shore). My Dad started going when he and Mom got engaged over 40 years ago, and the trip has grown and is something we all look forward to. We have beach time, beach bridge (we like playing cards), kites, crabs and charades.

A powerful confession

Paul Rhee--St. John Paul II Seminary in Washington

College II

Why seminary? After a powerful confession during my freshman year of high school, I decided to put God and faith first in my life. I started praying daily, and through this and the example of holy priests, I sensed a call to the priesthood on my heart. I felt I had to “try it out” by applying to seminary. Before that I attended Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and was involved in Catholic campus ministry.

Family or cultural tradition? I am Korean, and my extended family gets together on all the Korean holidays to keep our traditions alive. We eat things like dumpling soup, pork, beef (Galbi and Bulgogi), noodle stir-fry (Japchae), various stews, kimchi, and many other things my grandmother, mother and aunts make from scratch.

Favorite pastimes? Visiting with my family and friends, talking about faith, watching NBA, listening to various podcasts and music, and gaming.

Willie Nelson impersonator?

James Smith--St John Paul II Seminary in Washington

College I

Hardest thing to leave behind? My friends and my family, and Boba Tea and Korean food!

Why seminary? I want to be a servant to God's people and also further increase my relationship with my heavenly Father. The priesthood is a beautiful vocation and the possibility of being a minister of the sacraments is something that excites me.

Fun facts? I play guitar and studied music production for a year at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale; I sometimes sing in a Willie Nelson impersonation. In high school I wanted to be a famous guitarist (but when I was 5, I wanted to be a priest!).

Find out more

For more on the seminarians, go to ArlingtonDiocese.org/vocations/meet-our-seminarians.

National Vocations Awareness Week

National Vocations Awareness week will be held Nov. 1-7 this year. The weeklong celebration across the U.S. promotes vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life through prayer and education, and provides support for the faithful who are discerning.




© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020