Working toward a determined vocation

CHARLESTON — On July 27, six men will be ordained to the priesthood for service in ministry to the Diocese of Charleston. It is the largest group to be ordained at the same time since 1956. In that year, Bishop William T. Russell ordained nine priests, six of whom were diocesan and three were for the Order of St. Benedict.

One of the men from the current group is Deacon Bryan Babick, a familiar face at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

The soon-to-be priest is quietly modest about his vocation.

“I’ve always thought about becoming a priest, even as a young boy,” he said.

Perhaps proof of that desire is that he was a steady altar server as a child and helped out at church throughout his teens. He continued into adulthood by serving as an acolyte at the Cathedral.

Deacon Babick was born in Ohio and his family later moved to Virginia. In 1996, at age 18, he was working in radio as a broadcaster. He asked to move south with the company and was transferred to Charleston. He wanted to study accounting and get out of broadcasting.

 “The College of Charleston seemed like a good fit,” he said.

He quickly joined the Cathedral and became a familiar face.

Rebecca Achterhof, now parish secretary at St. Mary of the Annunciation, served as sacristan when Deacon Babick arrived. She said that the young man was an enthusiastic volunteer at the Cathedral.

“He jumped in both feet first and never doubted anything that he did,” she said. “It was really something he wanted to do. I couldn’t get there before he did on Sunday mornings. He was always helpful, always considerate.”

By age 22, the devout Catholic was ready to answer God’s call and started seminary. He spent three years studying at Pontifical College Josephinum. He was allowed to go to the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

“I really enjoyed it,” Deacon Babick said. “It has been a nice experience to live in such a special place.”

Deacons Babick, Michael Cassabon and Jeffrey Kirby, who are also in Rome, were ordained to the transitional diaconate at St. Peter’s Basilica. He is now in his seventh year of seminary and preparing for ordination.

“I have enjoyed the community, friendship and fellowship of seminary,” he said. He was particularly fond of the apostolates that seminarians are required to participate in as preparation for their roles as pastors. He has worked in a nursing home, a hospital, a soup kitchen and taught children in catechism.

Deacon Babick is an only child. He said his late grandmother, Dolores, was most influential on his young faith. They were close when he was young and she was the most religious person in the family.

“She held the family together,” Deacon Babick said. “She was the loving, nurturing matriarch.”

Like the majority of seminarians, Deacon Babick is most looking forward to celebrating Mass when he is ordained. He also hopes to evangelize his own people.

“I will be trying to draw people closer to the Lord and to the church,” he said.

He will return to Rome after his ordination to complete a licentiate in sacred liturgy.

“We study the history of the liturgy, the different rites and prayers and the theology of it, where certain liturgical aspects come from,” he said.

On top of that, he will continue learning Latin and Greek.

Aside from the intensive studies, Deacon Babick’s experience was more enlightening than he first expected.

“Being over here I’ve realized the church is much more universal than I thought,” he said. “I’ve taken classes with Africans, Iranians, even a Muslim at one point. The life of church and the life of the people she ministers to is very large. It has been a big eye opener for me.”