Alumni Profile: Fr. Daniel Sedlacek
1. How long were you homeschooled through Seton, and what did you like about the experience?
I was homeschooled K-12 through Seton, so I am a lifer!
My experience of homeschooling with Seton was overall very positive, although it was not always easy or fun. One year in middle school, I did not keep up with my school work and had to be in school all summer. However, each August/September, I always looked forward to getting my new textbooks in the mail and starting a new year of learning.
What I liked about my education with Seton was the set structure of the Lesson Plans for each course. It enabled me to see the big picture, to plan ahead, and to focus on what subject or work might require more time to learn.
I liked that the Catholic Faith permeated the entire curriculum. It helped me learn the reason for education at all; neither to make money nor even for personal edification, but to come to know the Truth and to serve Him. My Seton education helped me to encounter Jesus Christ in a non-trivial way and to get to know Him personally. I believe my Seton education nurtured my vocation to the priesthood and helped me to discover it and respond to it in faith.
2. Where did you go to college, and what is your degree?
I went to the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. Attached to the university is a college seminary called St. John Vianney College Seminary. I attended that seminary for four years, and graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy and Catholic Studies. Philosophy is a requirement for undergraduate seminary students.
The professors for both the Philosophy and Catholic Studies programs were great witnesses of both faith and reason. They were living proof that being intellectual and having child-like faith is not incompatible.
Catholic Studies is an interdisciplinary program that seeks to understand the beauty of the Catholic Faith by integrating theology, philosophy, literature, history, and art. I cannot give enough praise to the great work the Catholic Studies program accomplished to help form my faith and the faith of so many other students.
For my four years in major seminary, I lived at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy and attended theology classes at the University of the Holy Cross. I received a Bachelors in Sacred Theology (STB) in three years and then attended the Patristic Institute “Augustinianum” in my fourth year.
In that year, I completed a Post-graduate degree in Augustinian Studies and Spirituality and a Post-graduate degree in Joseph Ratzinger Studies and Spirituality. Undergoing priestly formation in Rome for four years was an amazing experience. One highlight was studying alongside seminarians and students from all around the world.
Another highlight was being exposed to the vast cultural and historical heritage of the Roman Catholic Church through various opportunities afforded to those who visit or live in Rome, such as visiting the catacombs, praying at the tombs of the early Christian martyrs, going to Mass with the Pope, and visiting art galleries and museums.
3. How did your Seton education help you navigate the college experience?
At first, I thought it would be hard to go to a “real school” after having been homeschooled my entire life. After adjusting to the fact I had to go to classrooms, listen to a professor, and learn how to take notes (this adjustment took me a week or two), I discovered my education with Seton prepared me well for college. I appreciated the solid education I had received in literature/reading comprehension and writing skills.
The ability to read and write well (both grammatically and thoughtfully) continues to serve me well. I also appreciate the Catholic culture that my Seton education helped form for my family and me, especially knowledge of Catholic practices and Church history. This broad Catholic formation helped me navigate through encounters with ideas, lifestyles, and attitudes which were contrary or hostile to Catholic beliefs and practices.
4. What are you doing now?
I was ordained to the priesthood on June 25, 2016. I am a diocesan priest serving in the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, which is my home diocese. I am working as parochial vicar (assistant pastor) of two parishes while also working as chaplain and campus minister at a Catholic Middle School and High School.
I especially enjoy working with the young people of both parishes and at the Catholic schools. My eight years of seminary built upon the foundation of faith and knowledge I received with my education at Seton. What I received from my Seton education helps me to serve the People of God every day.
5. What gives you passion or motivation in your current occupation?
The salvation of souls! But this is not a cliché “Seton-y” answer. The salvation of souls is not an abstract concept; it is quite concrete. To help people grow in greater understanding of their Catholic Faith, to provide for others the grace they need to “work out their salvation” using the Sacraments, to build up the community with prayer, fasting, and works of mercy: this is the work of “saving souls.”
To offer a patient and listening ear in the Confessional, to pray the Liturgy of the Hours with and for the Church, to preach the Gospel in homilies and in actions, to encourage others through small acts of kindness, to help others encounter Christ and His saving work in the Paschal Mystery: these are parts of the purpose and mission of the priest. The desire for others to attain their true good, that is, their salvation, is probably my primary motivation in doing my work.
Another thing that helps my motivation is experiencing true joy when I see Christ working through me to touch others. The life and work of a priest of Christ is mysterious, but it is also incredibly fulfilling.
6. Any advice for current Seton High-Schoolers?
The point of education is not only to gain knowledge but to form our hearts, souls, and minds so we can recognize and accept the truth. And this Truth is not a thing, but a Person. All truth leads to the Author of Truth. When tempted to give up on something or some subject, remember that God can use us and our knowledge in ways which we would never guess or imagine. No sincere effort in education is a waste.
Being a student is your current “vocation” and thus how you will grow in holiness by serving God and your neighbor. The actual day-to-day work of education is also a training ground for virtue. Homeschooling is very conducive for growing in self-discipline, self-motivation, accountability, prudence, and patience. The content of a Seton education is good, but do not limit yourself. If you are able and interested, I recommend also taking AP level courses or college classes.
Above all, I recommend going to Mass and Confession as often as is prudently possible and praying every day for God to help you discover and follow the vocation He has given to you. Here is a pretty good one:
Prayer to Know My Vocation
Lord, I want to be happy in this life
and spend eternity with You in the life to come.
From the first moment of my existence,
You knew my vocation.
Please help me discover Your plan for my life.
Help me to know myself.
Help me to overcome my fears.
Help me to want what You want.
Help me to trust You completely.
Send Your Holy Spirit into my mind and heart
so I can see the gifts You have given me
and hear Your call to serve the Church.
Increase my desire to bring others to You
and to help them reach heaven.
Mary Most Holy, Mother of God,
pray for me, that I can discover my vocation
and have the courage to respond in faith.