St. Benedict hosts vocations talk show for students


By Christina Leslie | Correspondent

Matthew Santucci, coordinator of faith formation in St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel, interviews Father John Michael Patilla, parochial vicar, during the “Catholic Not-So-Late Show.” Courtesy photo

A parish gymnasium in Holmdel recently took on the look of a New York City television studio talk show as eighth-graders were transported to the set of St. Benedict’s own “Catholic Not-So-Late Show.”

Matthew Santucci, parish coordinator of faith formation, and parochial vicar Father John Michael Patilla presented a lively, interactive presentation on vocations which included frank conversations, a video and a musical performance by the duo.

“I had planned a presentation on vocations for the students, and had a great conversation with Father J.M.,” Santucci said. “I thought the back-and-forth [conversation] we were having would be more interesting than a speech for the eighth-graders, so I decided to take it to the next level.”

The unsuspecting students entered the gym the evening of Oct. 14, but were greeted by a curtain blocking their view of the basketball court. It was drawn back to reveal the mockup of an evening talk show set: St. Benedict’s own “Catholic Not-So-Late Show.”

Atop a portable stage, Santucci, in jacket and tie, was seated behind a large wooden host desk, complete with matching mugs and a statue of the Cross. To Santucci’s right, seated on a well-worn mauve couch, was the evening’s special guest: Father Patilla, clad in his clerics, a brown jacket and soft brown Indiana Jones-style hat, which he called his “lucky charm.”

Santucci queried the priest about his personal conversion story, growing up in the Philippines, immigrating to the United States and other topics related to his vocation as priest. “We discussed what vocations were all about, not just the vocation of the priesthood, but married life and holiness,” Father Patilla said.

The two shared the spotlight in a vocal and guitar performance, tried their hands at a comedy sketch and showed a video presentation of Father Mike Schmitz, director of youth ministry for the Diocese of Duluth, Minn., who has a popular Catholic YouTube channel through Ascension Press.

Father Patilla most enjoyed the question-and-answer period with the students. “We have to try it again at different faith formation events,” he said.

Santucci agreed. “I think it went well, and we should try to adapt it for some adult faith events,” Santucci said.

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