Long path leads to seminary
Years of discernment, not a lightning bolt, led to studies for priesthood
Second in a series about the diocese's seminarians
By Sarah Malcore
Being in the seminary didn't come suddenly - like some sort
of divine lightning bolt - to Patrick Beno.
Rather, his discernment was gradual. It involved evaluating
8-10 years of feelings, events and thoughts and deciding
that God wanted him to take a different path.
"I wanted to do more for others and myself," he said.
Growing up, Beno enjoyed playing sports with his siblings
and the neighborhood kids. "I thought about priesthood a bit
as a child," Beno said, "but I was more interested in
football, basketball or baseball."
Beno went through high school in Virginia and then
Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, where he earned
a degree in history and a teaching certificate.
"I gave some thought to the priesthood during college, but
not too seriously." Beno said. "My discernment was very
gradual, God worked on me over time."
"Someone told me that I would eventually have 'paralysis
from analysis,' meaning that I was doing much thinking about
the priesthood but not much in the way of action. I needed
to make some concrete moves, such as talking with a
spiritual director or vocations director, and ultimately to
enter the seminary to test out whether it was God's will
that I should serve him as a priest."
Beno taught fourth-grade for five years at Holy Family
Academy in Manassas, Va. "God blessed me with a first career
of five years teaching first," Beno said. Though sad to
leave teaching, Beno felt confident he was making the right
decision when he entered the seminary.
"I knew it was the right thing (for me) when the time was
right. After college would not have been the right time for
me. God has a plan with certain people, reasons and time.
Teaching helped me to develop skills - teaching, organizing,
planning that will all be useful to me in the future. My
years of teaching certainly were good years of preparation
Although Beno found the idea of having wife and children
appealing, he still chose the seminary.
"I had to work it over in my own mind. I had to deal with it
in a positive way, and not look at it as just a sacrifice.
You can give yourself to so many more families in being
available more. This is where my teaching experience became
important. It gave me great experience in working with
families. I am also fortunate to have a very supportive
family of my own."
Beno offers this advice when dealing with discernment:
-- First, pray about it daily.
-- Second, talk about it with other people, starting with
-- Third, read about it, using some good spiritual works that
help you better understand what theology is all about.
-- Finally, "Put trust in God, and the right people will be
in your life."
As for the reaction from friends, Beno says "you may be
surprised at the support you will receive from peers. My
friends, especially the non-Catholic ones who don't know
much about priesthood, were extremely supportive."
There is a positive sense of mystery surrounding the
priestly vocation, he said. "Young people want the mystery.
That is why there is such a growing popularity of new age
and Eastern religions. We need to open up the mysteries of
our faith to young people in the teachings of the church.
There is a richness of wisdom there to tap into. The
priesthood itself is a mystery, how a man is called by God
to be the hands of Christ. I find it amazing that I can
enter into a life in which I can serve the Lord in so
intimate a way."
Beno completed a year of pre-theology studies at Mount St.
Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. He is now a first year
theology student at Mundelein Seminary. In seminary, Beno
enjoys working with other men to reach a common goal of
serving and in learning prayer and the pastoral assignments.
"To learn daily through prayer studies and pastoral work how
to commit myself to Christ" Beno said is one of the best
things about seminary. "The long hours of study are good,
but I had to train myself to do it. Time can go very quickly
in class and at study, especially when studying a class I
When Beno is not studying for seminary, he enjoys movies.
His favorite is On the Waterfront, a 1954 Marlin Brando film
that positively portrays the image of the priest (Karl
Malden) in one of the supporting characters.
Beno also enjoys reading theology, historical and classic
literature. He especially enjoyed the novel, Power and
Glory, by Graham Greene.
He also likes to golf and to watching Packer games on TV.
His favorite foods are pizza and steak and dining out at
(Malcore is an intern in the diocesan Vocations
Who: Patrick Beno
What: First year theology student
Where: Mundelein Seminary near Chicago
Background: Beno was born and raised in Green Bay. He is the youngest of five children. Beno has two older sisters, two
older brothers, and 10 nieces and nephews, ages 3-21. His
home parish is St. Peter and Paul in Green Bay.
Parents: Patrick and Joanne Beno
E-mail: [email protected]
Interested: For more information on vocations to priesthood
or religious life, phone Fr. Doug LeCaptain at (920)437-7531
or toll-free at 1-877-500-3580, ext. 8293, or by e-mail,