Fr. Patrick Setto is the newest ordained priest of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle, ordained July 2nd of 2017. Fr. Setto answered these questions when he was still a deacon preparing for his ordination.
Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself. (Home parish, family background, etc.)
I am the son of Moayad and Laman Setto, and I am the youngest and only boy with three older sisters: Lisa, Sandra, and Terry. I grew up serving as an altar boy at St. Joseph’s Church, and I have always loved to be around family and friends.
Q: Tell me a little bit about your faith background.
Ever since I could remember, I have been naturally drawn to Jesus, Mary, and the saints. As a young boy, my favorite movie that I watched all day long was the 6.5-hour movie, “Jesus of Nazareth.” I would watch this day and night while dressing up like Christ and reenacting the characters as I watched. I would also would play “Mass” with pita bread and collect religious statues and images. All of this was natural for me without anyone telling me to do it. Because of this, my parents would bring me to mass, and I would serve as an altar boy. My grandmother also had a huge influence on my faith. When she would babysit me, she would sit me on her lap, and I would hold one half of the rosary and she the other and we would pray together.
Q: What led you to the priesthood?
Priesthood was always something I thought about. Growing up, I retained a strong love for God; however, it wasn’t until I was 18 when I went on Kairos and had a personal encounter with Jesus. It was after that retreat that my life completely changed, and my love for Jesus went from simply images to a real person. This change came about in me when I finally came to learn the truth about Jesus in the sacraments—especially in the Eucharist—and God’s endless mercy through the sacrament of reconciliation. As I received God’s love and mercy in such an effective way through these great sacraments, I desired nothing else than to share them with everyone I came in contact with. I participated in leading other retreats and teaching in youth groups such as JCU, where I found so much joy and satisfaction. I was later introduced to The Diary of St. Faustina where I learned about Jesus’ endless mercy (which I found myself so much in need of). As I learned about Jesus’s thirst to save souls and to pour out His mercy on sinners, I began to taste a little of this thirst to save souls. It was then that I realized that my vocation was to share this love and mercy in the most direct way with the whole world, and that is primarily through the priesthood.
Q: Why become a priest?
Simply because of the Eucharist. Christ gave up Himself on the cross for our salvation, and it is that same Christ who continues to offer up Himself by coming to us in the form of ordinary bread. If this is true, it is worth giving up everything else just to make Jesus present through the sacraments, especially In the Eucharist.
St John Paul II once said that “one finds his true self in giving of himself.” There is nothing more fulfilling than to be able to give myself to Christ through giving my whole self to the others.
Q: Any special memories of past pastors/priests?
I will never forget the time back in 2009 when I was still discerning whether God was calling me to seminary. I was waiting in line for confession at St Cyril’s, and I was praying the first joyful mystery, “The Annunciation,” and I was asking Our Lady to help me say yes to God if he is calling me the way she said “yes” to God at the Annunciation. I asked her to give me a sign if God was calling me and if she was to lend me her “yes” to God. After entering the confessional and confessed my sins, the priest, who was Fr. Valerian Rykowski—an extremely holy and gifted priest—asked me to come from behind the screen and sit in front of him. After asking me a few questions, he looked at me strongly and said, “You will be a priest.” There were other encounters where Fr. Val had told me that God was calling me, but this time, he prophesied that I would become a priest.
Another priest who has had a huge influence on my vocation is Fr. Ben Ludtke. From my very first confession with him until now, he has been nothing short of an amazing example of what a true priest must be like. My first confession with him was so special because he was able to show me God’s mercy and compassion in a way that I never had felt before. His love and devotion to hear confessions day in and day out for hours at a time really showed me just how merciful God truly is. I pray to have this same passion for the sacrament of reconciliation in order to show the world God’s endless mercy.
Q: How has your time in seminary help prepare you for your upcoming ordination?
Seminary was truly the greatest gift I have received in my life thus far. I would never be the man that I am today if it weren’t for seminary. Seminary life taught me to grow in many incredible human qualities such as discipline, patience, productiveness, sensitivity to others, and most of all, it taught me how to love Christ above all. Through our daily schedule of morning prayer and mass, to classes and ending the evening in prayer, we were truly able to grow in our love for Christ on a spiritual level and to grow as stronger men on a human level. Seminary focuses on forming us into priests on four different levels or pillars: the spiritual, human, intellectual and pastoral pillars. The program was set up for us to be able to work and grow in these four areas of our lives so that we could become more whole and healthier in mind, body, and soul. The more we are able to become whole, the more effective we are in helping others.
Q: What are you looking forward to most as a priest? What are you least excited about?
I am most excited about celebrating mass and hearing confessions. My whole motivation to become a priest was to make Jesus present in the Eucharist and to communicate his mercy through the sacrament of reconciliation. I am excited about just being able to be an instrument of Christ in whatever way that I can to help souls experience the concrete love of Christ so that they can be with him for all eternity. I am sure there will be things that don’t excite me as much about priesthood, but at this time I am so excited just to be a priest that I am not aware of anything that would make me unexcited.
Q: Is there anything that you find special about about our Eparchy that you would like to share?
I think what is so special about our Eparchy is that we are so closely connected by our culture. I also really love the fact that the youth play such a huge role in our Church. When looking at the Catholic Church at large, you don’t usually see the youth or young adults as involved in Church as you can see in our Church.
Q: How are you feeling about your first assignment at Mother of God in July?
I am really excited to be at our Cathedral because it is the mother parish of all the parishes in the diocese. I love that Mother of God is always offering all kinds of programs and activities that can involve the whole diocese. It is really the home Church that is able to bring all of the other smaller communities together to really feel like one family, and I really look forward to being able to serve not only our parishioners, but our diocese at large.