Happy Thanksgiving to you all. My name is Fr Joe Kim and I am the Vocations Director for the Diocese of San Jose. I am happy to join the parish this weekend to offer the Eucharistic sacrifice, Greek for “to give thanks.”
In a national and international time of incertitude, violence, disaster and tragedies, it is all the more reason to pause a moment to return to God thanks for the certitude, peace, order and blessings we have received. One of the greatest things to give God thanks is the gift of priesthood in our Church. Over the past several weeks you have been hearing stories about the call of God for the lives of your beloved priests. I have enjoyed reading Fr Sergio’s thirst for God in the Eucharist and devotion to the Mother of God and Fr Abe’s missionary impulse while he was in high school. I give God thanks for their tireless witness to the call of God for their lives and would encourage you to be specific about how God has used them to bring you some certitude, peace, order and blessing.
When I look at my own life growing up here in San Jose, my parents and grandparents, immigrants from South Korea, were the decisive influence of virtue and faithfulness. Although they preferred kimchee and I preferred burritos, we connected on the level of faith. It was not easy as my three older sisters and I grew up at St Frances Cabrini School and Saratoga High School. The densely secular culture challenged the faith of my childhood over simple things like Mass on Sundays or more serious things like academic integrity. Having an adult influence of faith where real questions were posed and answered in a frank conversation helped move my faith from that of a child to an adult. When at the University of California (Go Bears!), I came across brilliant peers from all over the world who were faithful and practicing Catholics. I remember our conversations about the state of the world, our country, our Church while leading retreats, service at San Quentin, and prayer at the Newman Center. By the end of college, surrounded by peers all seeking do something great in life making a world of a difference I seriously considered the priesthood. The decision to enter seminary was made after working as an electrical engineer and then taking time off for a formal discernment with a group of spectacular Catholic men at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.
After eight years of priesthood and seven years of formal seminary formation, I am giving God thanks for all the Spirit-filled people who have helped me to listen deeply to what the Lord was calling me to. They did that more by their faithfulness than by their words, though the words helped. You are those people! I often sit at Church and thank God for the vocations of marriage, priesthood and religious life that God has called his faithful. And I thank him ahead of time for those same vocations he is calling from our young people today. That is what I’ll be doing at St Martin’s this weekend, giving thanks.
Thank you all for your support of vocations through your prayers, your ADA contributions, and most importantly your faithful witness.
God bless you all,
Fr Joe Kim