Skip to Content

 His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Newark, and Rev. Patrick Seo (’06)

In his third year at Thomas Jefferson University’s school of medicine, around the time that most medical students consider the possible specializations that will define their careers, Rev. Patrick Seo (’06) made a rather unconventional choice. Although he had been thinking about family medicine — he liked working with a wide range of patients in a hands-on, personal way — he decided instead to become a physician of souls.

Providence had intervened. “I had just read St. Anthony in the Desert by St. Athanasius, and it gave me this fire to do God’s will,” he recalls. “I realized I hadn’t been living for God.”

After graduating from Thomas Aquinas College in 2006, Fr. Seo reflects, he entered medical school mostly by default, following in his parents’ footsteps. Medicine was a noble profession, to be sure, but was it his calling? The sense of restlessness he experienced suggested otherwise. He knew God was asking more from him. Thinking of St. Anthony’s monasticism, he concluded that he was being called to the religious life.

Leaving his medical studies behind, Fr. Seo began visiting religious houses across the country, among them a Carthusian monastery on a Vermont mountaintop, where he spent a month in prayer and contemplation. “I loved the silence and the solitude, and I loved my time there,” he says. “But I didn’t have a sense of peace about staying.” Through prayerful reflection and spiritual direction, he began to discern that his vocation was perhaps not to the religious life after all, but to the secular priesthood.

The Carthusian novice master thus suggested that Fr. Seo go back to his native New Jersey, where an auxiliary bishop — the Most Rev. Manuel Cruz of Newark — was said to “love Carthusians even more than the Carthusians do.” His Excellency, in turn, offered Fr. Seo a one-year position working in the cathedral while discerning his next step. When the year was up, Fr. Seo entered the diocesan seminary and, four years later, His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Newark, ordained him to the priesthood on May 27, 2017, at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

Today Fr. Seo is the parochial vicar at Our Lady of Mercy, a 3,300-family parish in Park Ridge, New Jersey. Tending to the spiritual care of his flock — a wide range of people with a seemingly infinite variety of needs — is reminiscent, he finds, of his medical-school rotations. “The diocesan priesthood is the family medicine of the spiritual life. We are the front line,” he says. “The Lord gave me this joy that comes from being with His people, and it will be exciting to see how He uses me to deliver His grace.”