By Dominique Johnson
The North Star Catholic
Father Pat Casey, OMI, began considering a vocation in the priesthood when he was in seventh grade while attending Catholic school in Los Angeles, California. He wouldn’t enter seminary until later in life, but on December 30th, the 73 year old priest, will celebrate his 40th ordination anniversary.
He recalls vocation directors talking with students every year and having an interest in going to seminary. Though he didn’t enter seminary in high school, like some of his classmates, Father Pat shared that he was an altar server as a young boy through his time at the Newman Center at UCLA.
After high school, Father Pat attended UCLA with plans to enter the medical field, but after his freshman year, he was drafted to serve in the Vietnam War.
Father Pat served as a medical nurse and on medical evacuation teams, where he saw priests ministering to the wounded. “The priests were some of the bravest people. They would get on helicopters to be with those needing prayer,” he said. This image of priests ministering to soldiers and people in need stayed with Father Pat.
After his military service was complete, Father Pat returned home to Los Angeles to complete his degree at UCLA. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology and sociology and later completed the physician’s assistant program.
Three years later, while working at a cardiovascular unit at a Catholic hospital in Omaha, Nebraska, Father Pat felt compelled to look closer at the priesthood. He recalls leaving his shift one night and driving over to the rectory where the oblates lived. Still in his scrubs and with long hair, he knocked on the door, looking to learn more about the order. Father Pat said, “The brother who answered the door said, ‘wait a minute.’ He returned with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because he thought I was homeless.”
Father Pat explained to the brother that he was interested in learning more about the order and becoming a priest. He said after learning about the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and their charisms, he was impressed with their mission. Father Pat continued meeting with the brothers weekly. About two years later, he joined the novitiate program with the oblates.
On December 30th, 1980, Father Pat was ordained a priest in his home parish, Precious Blood in Los Angeles.
During his 40 years of ministry, he is proud of his work serving parishes in Chicago’s inner-city, improving the curriculum at the parish schools.
For the last 13 years, Father Pat Casey, OMI, has served as a missionary in Southeast Alaska. He served for three years in Petersburg and Wrangell and has spent the last ten years as pastor at the Co-Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He said ministering in Alaska “has been challenging, but I’ve loved it.” Father Pat has enjoyed becoming part of the community in Juneau, celebrating Mass and serving his flock’s needs.