Fr. Hansoo Park prepares to take over as Director of Vocations for the archdiocese of Toronto

  • April 16, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - When he was young, fishing meant going down to the ocean side in South Korea and watching the divers disappear underwater to catch the fish his parents requested.

Today, fishing has taken on a different meaning for Fr. Hansoo Park as he prepares to take over as Director of Vocations for the archdiocese of Toronto.

“These divers were able to catch those fish for you because they knew the ocean and they understood the movements of the fish. Fostering vocation culture is such,” Park told The Catholic Register. “First and foremost we have to understand the time and age of our society and we ought to be proactive in reaching out.”

Becoming the director of vocations means Park, who is 32 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2005, will also become the rector of Serra House , a place of reflection and discernment for men considering a vocation to the priesthood. Barely a decade ago, Park was living and discerning at Serra House himself. He spent two years there from 1998-2000, under the direction of Fr. Pat O’Dea. Park had come to Toronto with his parents and two sisters just eight years before that.

“I think it’s a bonus, knowing the formation and how it helped me, and how the whole formation is geared towards the community aspect, to make sure we grow,” he said.

Park said an important part of his role will be to live his own vocation joyfully, to be a good role model for the men who come through the Serra House doors. But he also understands that the challenge will come in balancing his role as a spiritual leader for the residents and reaching out to others in the diocese.

“I know we live in a society where faith is not treasured,” he said. “Sometimes we see people, especially the young people, not even knowing their faith. So we need to promote vocations but we also need to teach our young people and provide them with a sense of the preciousness that Jesus gives us.”

Creating a culture of vocations will be key. Park sees his role as that of a farmer trying to create the most fertile land, so that the harvest will be even more abundant.

“The fundamental challenge is creating a culture in which each Christian is empowered to identify and respond to the mission to which he or she is called as a member of the Body of Christ, in and for the world,” he said.

He feels that the shoes of the previous director, Fr. Liborio Amaral, will be big ones to fill, but it’s a challenge he willingly and humbly takes. Park rejoined the Serra House household in mid-February, to “learn the ropes” from Amaral, and was pleased to see that little had changed in the household in the 10 years since he lived there, including the household cook he used to tease.

“I used to say ‘watch out because someday I’ll be your boss’ and now here I am,” he said with a chuckle.

Park is excited to once again experience the community life he shared with others while discerning at Serra House. Every day brings morning Mass and prayer, where residents can spend time with the Eucharist, a central point of diocesan priesthood. He said it’s in the chapel where residents learn how to begin every day as a sacrifice, rising early with the Lord.

“I remember when I was in university and I was trying to find the meaning of life and it was the first time I really asked the Lord ‘why are you on the cross’ and over the years I eventually began to understand what the Eucharist is, that He broke His body and shed His blood for us.”

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