Vocation discerners find brotherhood and food for thought over breakfast

by Joan Kurkowski-Gillen

North Texas Catholic

November 13, 2017

From left, Father Jonathan Wallis, Father Nghia Nguyen, and Father Keith Hathaway with seminarians and discerners at a "Come and See" weekend at St. Joseph Seminary in November. (photo courtesy/Hai Nguyen)


FORT WORTH — St. Andrew the Apostle is often credited as the first person to engage others in the mission of Jesus Christ. A disciple of John the Baptist, the fisherman recognized the Messiah walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee and brought his younger brother, Simon Peter, to meet him.

“This leading of others to Christ” is why the Diocese of Fort Worth calls its monthly discernment event for men the St. Andrew Breakfast, according to Father Matthew Tatyrek, chaplain at Nolan Catholic High School.

“The breakfasts point our young men, who are discerning, toward the Lord,” said the priest, who is part of a five-member vocation team charged with guiding others considering the priesthood. “We want them to continue to seek his will for their lives and discern the call they have received.”

Every month, with the exception of Lent, June and July, the diocesan Vocations Office hosts the get-together at St. Patrick Cathedral. The morning begins with an 8 a.m. Mass followed by a catered breakfast, socialization, and some time for catechesis.

Father Matthew Tatyrek leads a Holy Hour for vocations at the University Catholic Community at the University of Texas at Arlington during Vocation Awareness Week. (NTC photo/Jayme Shedenhelm)

Fr. Tatyrek will discuss saints as examples of faith and holiness at the next St. Andrew Breakfast set for Saturday, Nov. 18.

“I’ll be talking about what’s required of a priest in his journey toward holiness and developing a relationship with our Lord through spiritual life,” he added.

Another member of the vocation team, Father Keith Hathaway, plans to present a program on “a priest’s relationship to Mary as our mother,” during the following month’s breakfast set for Saturday, Dec. 9 at 8 a.m. His talk will explore the Church’s celebration of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8.

Every breakfast concludes with prayer. Typically, 10 to 15 young men, ranging in age from 14 to 20, attend the event.

Father Manuel Holguin, pastor of St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Fort Worth, Father Nghia Nguyen, parochial vicar at St. John the Apostle Parish in North Richland Hills, and Father Jonathan Wallis, dean of students at St. Joseph Seminary in Covington, La., are also involved in the vocation program.

“The goal of the breakfast is to foster fraternity and community among the men discerning in the diocese while receiving catechesis about the nature of the priesthood itself,” Fr. Tatyrek said. “Praying together and breaking bread together is part of the experience.”

An evening vocation program, held every Monday during Lent, helped Fr. Hathaway discern his vocation. The chaplain at Notre Dame High School in Wichita Falls was ordained in 2015.

“There’s a consolation in knowing there are other young men thinking about the priesthood. It’s also an opportunity to meet priests, seminarians, and the bishop,” he pointed out.

Guidance during discernment helps young men understand the nature, call, and joy of the priesthood, “so they can make a good decision to enter the seminary once they’re ready.”

A 19-year-old college student, who frequently attends the monthly St. Andrew Breakfast, said it’s comforting to know there are others his age asking the same questions and discerning the same call.

“Knowing there is someone there to help you through those first steps in the discernment process is important,” he continued. “I’m learning about the life and responsibilities of priests.”

For many young men, exploring a vocation to the priesthood can be a lonely, isolating time in life.

“When we discern a call to the priesthood, we can feel alone in a lot of ways and that holds us back from pursuing this vocation with confidence,” said Fr. Tatyrek, reflecting on his own faith journey and ordination in 2016. “The presence of other young men at the breakfast builds community and provides a good support for them.”

Fr. Hathaway suggested praying for those attending the St. Andrew Breakfast, as well as for students already in the seminary.

“Pray for seminarians by name — there’s a daily prayer list,” he said referring to information available on the diocesan website. “And pray for men who are just beginning to discern so the Lord will bless them and help them make that decision.”

For more information or to register for the upcoming St. Andrew Breakfast, please click here.

FORT WORTH — St. Andrew the Apostle is often credited as the first person to engage others in the mission of Jesus Christ. A disciple of John the Baptist, the fisherman recognized the Messiah walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee and brought his younger brother, Simon Peter, to meet him.

Published (until 11/13/2030)
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