New faces, new places for the Vocation Office

Categories: Around the Diocese

Vocation Office assistant Julie Jacobs and associate vocation director Father Ben Kociemba are pictured near the National Vocation Awareness Week display they designed at Cathedral High School in St. Cloud Oct. 30. Photo by Dianne Towalski / The Visitor

Vocation Office assistant Julie Jacobs and associate vocation director Father Ben Kociemba are pictured near the National Vocation Awareness Week display they designed at Cathedral High School in St. Cloud Oct. 30. Photo by Dianne Towalski / The Visitor

By Father Scott Pogatchnik

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans!”

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Father Scott Pogatchnik is vocation director for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

So goes the old proverb — and how true it is. God laughs because our plans are too small. Because he sees the whole of history. Because we have no idea how great his plans are for us. I tell people this all the time!

Yet, when I first learned that my gifted, longtime assistant in the Vocation Office would be moving on, I wasn’t laughing. Kristi Anderson is an incredible woman of faith — part adviser and creative genius, part mom and cheerleader. For years, the seminarians knew her and she knew them. In her new role with The Visitor, I knew more of you would be blessed by her gifts (what a writer!), but I wasn’t sure what lay in store for vocations.

Enter our new assistant, Julie Jacobs. Gifted in her own right, Julie has been a fantastic addition to the vocation team. Thoughtful and hard-working, Julie brings a personal, compassionate touch to her work. Her experience in the diocese has made her a natural fit in assisting me to educate and equip those seeking God’s call. The Vocation Office moved to join Julie at the Chancery this past June.

I was gearing up for a great summer when God laughed again. Bishop Donald Kettler asked if I would assume leadership as rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral and pastor of St. Augustine Parish. A new assignment! My first chance to be a pastor! I was humbled by the invitation but again wondered what this meant for vocations work. In particular, the status of the Marmion House, a new house of discernment for men that I began the previous year, was uncertain.

Enter our new associate vocation director, Father Ben Kociemba. Ordained in 2012, Father Ben has worked in area parishes and currently serves as chaplain for Cathedral High School. Father Ben now takes the lead in vocation education and promotion — including preaching about vocations on weekends and engaging Wednesday night faith formation programs.

This leaves me to focus on our 18 seminarians — ensuring the quality of their discernment and formation. In addition, Father Ben assumes leadership of the Marmion House and its transition from the Newman Center rectory to the St. Augustine rectory. I’m grateful for his zeal, faith and friendship.

At each turn, with each laugh, God is reshaping the Vocation Office and inviting me to a greater trust in his plans. Please join me in praying that along with these new faces and new places, a new movement of the Holy Spirit may burn inside those God is calling to be his priests and religious. Thy will be done!

— Father Scott Pogatchnik