The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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October 13, 2000 Issue
Local News

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 for me."

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 your pastor.

-- 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 enjoy."

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 Chili's.

(Malcore is an intern in the diocesan Vocations Department.)


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, [email protected]

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