Fargo dad follows his son, a priest, to Holy Orders as a deacon

Jonah McKeown   By Jonah McKeown

Father Eric Seitz says Mass, with his father, Deacon Ben Seitz, assisting as deacon. Courtesy photo.

Fargo, N.D., Jun 15, 2021 / 18:01 pm (CNA).

Eric Seitz was ordained to the priesthood August 8, 2020 for the Diocese of Fargo. Two months later, his father Ben was ordained to the diaconate.

Father Seitz, now parochial vicar at St. John the Evangelist parish in Wahpeton, North Dakota, told CNA that his father had been considering the diaconate for many years before it finally came to fruition.

Father Eric said although he entered holy orders before his father did, it was his father’s holy example that helped nurture his faith to the point of discerning the priesthood.

“Just looking at things from my perspective, really his example as a Christian man was what made my faith gave room for my faith to grow, and helped me to learn about how serious [faith] is, in an age when so many people pass it off,” he commented.

“I would say just his vocation as a Christian man was what helped me to discern my vocation.”

Father Eric serves as parochial vicar to Father Dale Lagodinski in the rural town of Wahpeton. Deacon Ben currently serves at Sts. Anne and Joachim Catholic Church in Fargo, about 50 miles north.

Growing up in an Air Force family, Father Eric said the family moved around frequently, but the tug he felt toward the priesthood followed him as he attended a Catholic school in each city where the Seitzes settled.

In seventh grade during a penance service, he said the idea of becoming a priest flitted into his mind as he contemplated what his future might hold.

“As I was going through the rest of middle school and into high school, I kept on hearing from different people that they thought they could see me as a priest,” he recalled.

“So by the time I got to the end of my junior year of high school, I realized I had to start making some decisions. I went on a discernment retreat, which was really helpful, and was talking with my pastor and the vocation director and my parents and all of that.”

He decided to go to seminary straight out of high school. He struggled somewhat at first with his own decision, saying that in addition to a call to the priesthood, he also had a desire to get married.

“And as I was going through seminary, I started noticing within myself that the priesthood wasn’t just something that God wanted for me, but it was something that I wanted to do as well. This wasn’t being imposed on me; it was my heart’s desire to go through with this,” he said.

Father Eric said he remembers his father Ben talking about wanting to join the diaconate when Eric was only in fourth grade, but he remembers having to wait for “God’s timing” to be right. Ben was unable to join the diaconate until after he had settled down and left the military, since the military archdiocese does not offer a diaconate program, Eric said. Ben ultimately earned a master’s degree in theology, and his final formation took five years.

Father Eric said his mother, a convert to the faith, is very supportive of her son’s and husband’s vocations, and will sometimes call him to request he pray particular Mass intentions.

In terms of advice for those still discerning their vocation, Father Eric has simple advice.

“Stay calm and talk to somebody who is wise that you can trust,” he said.

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