By Katherine Long | Editor
Have you ever wondered how a priest juggles ministry to multiple parishes, what he thinks about celibacy, or how he became a priest in the first place? Tune into the Office of Vocation Promotion’s new podcast and find out.
Vocation Chats, hosted by Director of the Office of Vocation Promotion Father Jason Hage and St. Rose of Lima Pastor Father Chris Celentano, features priests and those in formation discussing timely faith topics and sharing their experiences of life in service to the Church. Billed as “a podcast from the other side of the altar,” Vocation Chats aims to give listeners a window into the life and ministry of a priest.
“My goal is to … create a platform where you can get a sense and feel for the humanity of the priest. Just hearing him talk in normal conversation, not a homily, not preaching, not teaching, but literally just having a coffee conversation,” Father Hage said.
Vocations Chats launched in February and three episodes have been released. In one, Father Celentano discusses “the joy and beauty of his call to celibacy, and how it is truly a profound gift in his life as a priest.” In a second, Father Ken Kirkman, pastor of St. Anthony and St. Joseph parishes in Endicott, talks about “how a priest tries to move through busy seasons in his life” and “shares his insights on how to remain focused and centered on Christ.” (There is also a bit of Star Wars chat.) A third features Father Nathan Brooks, parochial vicar of the six-parish Spirit of Hope Catholic Community in the diocese’s Eastern Region, sharing his journey to the priesthood. (See box at right.)
Father Hage aims to match interesting topics with priests who are passionate about them. He connects with his guests ahead of recording — a quick call to “make them comfortable with a topic that means something to them” — but “there’s no notes that they’re bringing in or an agenda or bullet points. It’s literally us just having a free-form conversation,” he said.
The podcast expands on popular weekly chats Father Hage hosted on Instagram Live in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. “Based on the draw we had for that, and the interactions we had because of that, [the podcast] is something that has very much been on my heart since then,” he said.
Though he’d previously only dabbled in podcasting, Father Hage knew “the discerners that we’re trying to reach are between the ages of 18 and 39. We recognize that the podcast platform is very popular among that demographic,” he said. A podcast is also a way to reach discerners who may not be ready for or comfortable with more formal vocation programs, he noted, as it’s an “anonymous, safe, comfortable platform where they can literally just plug in.”
Feedback on the first three episodes has been positive, Father Hage said, including kudos from the students he ministers to at Colgate University in Hamilton.
“I think we’re hitting our target because all of our listeners are [saying,] ‘You know, the great thing about it is that you guys are just having a normal, human conversation,’” he laughed.
“I think sometimes for people, priesthood can seem so mysterious or there’s a mystique about our life. My goal is to break that down a little bit.”
A new episode of Vocations Chat is released on the first Friday of each month; listen via vocations-syracuse.org, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Pandora, and more.
Vocation Chats: ‘The Personality of the Priest is the Bridge to Christ’
Father Nathan Brooks, parochial vicar of the six-parish Spirit of Hope Catholic Community in the diocese’s Eastern Region, recently spoke about discernment and the journey to his 2019 ordination as a priest on the Vocation Chats podcast. Excerpts from that episode appear here; listen in full via vocations-syracuse.org, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Pandora, and more.
“God didn’t call us to be robots. God didn’t have a single formula for all of us and say, ‘You have to follow into this mold and you’ll be fine.’ No, God called us and created us in his image and likeness to be who he wanted us to be, who we were meant to be, and that sometimes means we all have different gifts and talents. When you go into seminary, when you go into your career, you don’t have to be the perfect organized person who has the perfect prayer life, who has the perfect everything. Life sometimes is messy; that’s the original sin in our lives — that sometimes we fail. But God is there to help pick us up. It’s allowing God to be in our lives, to transform us. As soon as we leave God out and we try to do it on our own, that’s when life starts to get messy, that’s when life starts to get into this despair; we’re not doing what we’re called to do.”
“I would say, whatever our calling is from God — if it’s priesthood, religious life, consecrated life, marriage — allow God to transform us and allow God to be at the forefront of our mind so that we can be carried forward and we can build up that body of Christ. Because God needs all of us.”
“My one piece of advice [to discerners] would be: You are worthy. And God loves you because you’re a beloved child of God. Help us to build up the body of Christ.”