The reluctance of parents to encourage their children to
enter religious life is the biggest challenge facing Father
Joseph Kim in his role as director of vocations and
seminarians in the Diocese of San Jose, Calif. "The sense of
children being a gift from God is a conversion that needs to
take place," he said. "It's a challenge that needs to
Father Kim said that God has a plan for each of us in heaven,
so that we will live forever with Him. "The way to heaven is
through the family," he said.
Father Kim, who was ordained in 2010, is believed to be the
youngest vocation director in the country. He was one of the
speakers at the first Korean American Vocation Conference
held Aug. 20 at St. Paul Chung Church in Fairfax. The
conference was sponsored by the Vocations Office of the
Arlington Diocese, led by Father J.D. Jaffe, and the Office
of Multicultural Ministries, directed by Corrine Monogue.
Northern Virginia has the fourth highest number of
Korean-Americans in the United States, according to the
Korean American Priests Association.
The theme for the day was "Come and You will See," which was
inspired by a similar event begun in Seoul, South Korea, in
2009. The initiative helps teenagers determine their calling
- whether it's the single life, marriage or religious life -
through a series of workshops.
"This conference is modeled after a conference in Korea, so
it's bringing a little bit of home here," said Father Jaffe.
"We are helping them see what God is calling them to be."
In addition to Father Kim, other speakers included Little
Sister of the Holy Family Martina Koh; Missionary Sister of
St. Charles Borromeo Myrna Tordillo, assistant director of
Asian Pacific Islanders Affairs at the U.S. Conference of
Catholic Bishops; Father Amos Lee, a priest of the
Archdiocese of Seoul who is studying canon law at Catholic
University; and Father Won Kyoung Sung, parochial vicar at
St. Paul Chung.
Father Jaffe, who was the celebrant and homilist at the
opening Mass, said he was placing all of the intentions for
the conference in the hands of the Blesssed Virgin Mary.
"Our Lord challenges priests to do a whole lot more, to give
more and to help others to carry their heavy burdens," Father
Jaffe said. "Every one of us is called to be a light in the
world. We are all called to be bright, shining lights for
Father Jaffe said that a vocation is a call from God to share
His mission in the world. "Holiness is not out of reach," he
said. "We need others to help us carry these burdens." Most
of us achieve holiness through matrimony, he said, while
others become holy by entering the religious life.
"Each of us is called to be a unique witness of God," Father
Jaffe said. "I ask you to consider praying and building up a
culture of God."
Jason Huh, a 51-year-old attorney, said he wanted his two
teenage boys to look at all the options they have before
them. "I remember arriving here from South Korea in 1974, and
the Catholic Church providing for the Korean community," Huh
said. "I am grateful for that." Now he hopes that this event
will help guide his children.
Father Jaffe said he was "ecstatic" with Saturday's event and
the turnout was better than projected. "We were probably
right around 175 attendees," he said. "The speakers were
excellent and engaging, and their messages were very
well-received. The day had a good feel and energy to it."
Monogue said she was overjoyed with the turnout and feedback.
"Many of the faithful were so appreciative of the opportunity
to have a day like this, with the caliber of speakers that
were available," she said. "There was joy, appreciation and
excitement for future engaging conferences such as this one."