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Parents’ intuition on son’s vocation goes way back

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Sean Koehr’s parents, whose home parish is St. John the Evangelist Church in Warrenton, knew that he had a vocation long before he did. When Koehr was a child, his dad gave nicknames such as “Dan the Man” and “Big Kev” to his 12 kids. Koehr’s monicker was “Father Sean.”

During his freshman year at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., Koehr was floored when he called up his mother with what he thought was a unique insight into his future vocation.

“Mom, I think that I might be called to be a priest,” Koehr said.

She responded simply and confidently: “I know.”

“The impact of both of my parents on my vocation is profound,” Koehr said. “Raising 12 children, they have been a wonderful example of generosity and sacrifice.”

He also cited their deep love for the church and the warmth with which they connected with parish priests throughout his school years.

Although he was home-schooled from kindergarten through sixth grade, he attended Seton School in Manassas part time in seventh grade and full time from eighth grade through his high school graduation in 2008. While at a Seton School senior retreat, he was inspired by the witness of a priest, Father James Searby, who often heard confessions and led retreats to his school.

“I was confounded by his joy,” Koehr said. “I kept asking myself: What is this guy so happy about?”

He could see that Father Searby made himself available to administer the sacraments. Koehr decided that was how he wants to minister.

“I look forward to putting people in personal contact with Jesus, who wants to transform each of our lives,” Koehr said.

At the University of Notre Dame, he participated in the Naval ROTC program and is currently a lieutenant in the Inactive Ready Reserve.

“There is a long tradition of naval service in my family,” Koehr said. “My paternal grandfather was a rear admiral and my grandmother served in the Navy Nurse Corps.”

After his college graduation in 2012, he entered Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. From 2015 to present, he studied at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa. Koehr hopes that after he is ordained a priest, he will have the opportunity to serve as a naval chaplain. He is scheduled to go active at least three years after he is ordained a priest.

“I think the best way I can serve my country is to bring Jesus to our service men and women as a Catholic chaplain,” Koehr said.

In the meantime, he will have a diaconal year to hone his skills at preaching the Gospel. He will preach his first homily at the 9 a.m. Mass at his home parish, St. John the Evangelist, on the Feast of Corpus Christi June 3.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018