Seminarian Christopher Bae Pilot photo/courtesy Office for Vocations
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Home Town and Country: Seoul, South Korea
High School: Cypress High School, Cypress, Calif.
Graduate: Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
M.S. in Mechanical Engineering
Seminary Attending: St. John's Seminary, Third Theology
What are some of the factors that led to your decision to enter the seminary and discern the question of a vocation to the priesthood?
In April 2010, I went on a mission trip to Haiti for 10 days to help the poor and the sick. While helping them, I asked myself, "What did these people do wrong so that they have to suffer this poverty? What did these babies do wrong so that they were abandoned by their parents?" Then I also asked myself, "What did I do right so that I was born with all these talents and gifts?" At that moment, I realized that I could have been born in Haiti if God willed and how everything I received was a pure gift from God.
For me, it did not make sense to use all my talents for my own benefit. I felt that I should help others. There are numerous ways to help others, but I did not want to exclude the option of priesthood from my list. To be honest, I could have just married someone and had a family, but I did not want to regret later in my life for not discerning fully for my vocation because marriage is not a default vocation.
Who are some of the people who influenced your decision to enter the seminary? What is it about them that assisted you?
After coming back from Haiti, I was looking for other career options such as law school, consulting firm, etc. One day my pastor suggested to me the priesthood. At first, I did not take it seriously because I had never thought of becoming one. But, his word about priesthood never went away since that day. Gradually, I became open to the priesthood vocation. As I interviewed people who were already successful in my potential career such as lawyer, consultants, banker, etc., about 30-40 percent of them were happy with their career. However, when I interviewed priests and religious sisters, 10 out of 10 were happy with their lives. Then I realized there must be something different in the religious vocation.
What would you say is the role of prayer in the life of a seminarian and what effect does it have on one's ability to see God's call?
Prayer is a communication with God, meaning it is a two-way conversation. You need to say your desire to him. And you need to listen to what God says to you. God speaks the loudest in silence. Without silent prayer, one cannot listen to God clearly. When you meet someone who really interests you, you will spend time with him or her to get to know him or her better. If you begin to be interested in God, you want to spend time with him, right? How? Prayer.
What advice would you give to a man who is thinking about his vocation and is considering that God may be calling him to be a priest?
If you do not know how to use an iPhone, the best person to talk to is the engineer who built the phone. If you do not know what to do with your life, why not talk to the engineer of your life, which is God? Please give God a chance to work in you. The Archdiocese of Boston provides you with a free chance to discern your vocation. They will support you financially for your discernment process in the seminary, and they will not charge you for the cost even if you decide to leave the formation. Why not take this awesome opportunity?
What do you like most about being a seminarian?
I learn how to be happy! Our fundamental vocation is not finding our jobs. It should be the vocation to holiness. The degree we need is neither Ph.D, MBA, nor MD. The degree we need is ST. We need to have ST in our names. ST stands for saint. Since I entered the seminary, I tried my best to grow in holiness and build intimate relationship with God with the help from the Blessed Mother. It is not an easy journey because through prayers, we will see lots of weaknesses and sinfulness of ourselves. However, through humility and perseverance, as we carry our own cross, we will begin to taste the glory of heaven and the joy to share the Good News with others. Once you taste that joy, you will be glad that you are in the seminary.
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing a man who is considering the seminary?
Adjusting myself to a daily schedule was challenging because there are commitments I cannot compromise such as community prayer time, Mass, classes. In addition, time management is critical since usually seminarians take five courses per semester and have a pastoral assignment in addition to being present at all liturgy. Living a communal life might be tough to the one who used to live by oneself because you will need to make sacrifice to live harmoniously together.
Seminarian Spotlight is a collaborative effort between The Pilot and the Archdiocese of Boston's Office for Vocations to introduce readers to the men preparing for priesthood in the archdiocese. More seminarian profiles and information on discerning a vocation are available at www.VocationsBoston.org.