Fr. Seth Sabata was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz on Saturday, April 10th, 2021, at North American Martyrs Catholic Church in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Born in Lincoln and raised in a rural area outside of Omaha, where he attended school and was an altar server at St. James’ parish, Fr. Seth heard God’s call to the priesthood while studying biochemistry as a first-year college student at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. He first met Regnum Christi and the Legionaries of Christ on a mission trip to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. He recalls, “ My fellow missionaries and I were at a Regnum Christi family’s house for dinner after a week of missionary work, and a few Legionaries were there also. One of the Legionaries was telling us his own vocation story. He recounted how he had all he desired when he was in college; good friends, a car, a solid major with a scholarship, and a girlfriend. Yet, the Lord called him, and he left everything to follow that call. As I listened to his story, I started checking off the boxes in my head of all those good things that he mentioned; I had great friends, the car, I was studying my preferred subject, I had the scholarship, and a girlfriend. Then, I clearly felt in my heart the Lord asking me, “And why not you? Have you thought about the priesthood?”.
Reflecting on how the Lord has gently led him to his priestly vocation, Fr. Seth said, “My heart has always yearned to serve, help and heal others in a deep and lasting way. I have always longed to love my fellow brothers and sisters with a full, free and honest love. Above all, I felt the Lord has always called me to a particular relationship with him. He has always wanted my heart to be fully dedicated to him.”
In his ordination homily, Bishop Bruskewitz stressed both the great honor and the undeserved nature of the office of priesthood, saying, “Remember that no one takes this honor for himself, but only as one who has been called by God.” Fr. Seth felt this humbling realization strongly, even prefacing his personal testimony with a quotation by St Pope John Paul II: “Vocation, more than our own choice, is a response to God’s unmerited call” (August 4, 2019).
In his testimony, Fr. Seth recalled some things that prepared him to hear and answer God’s call. He grew up in a loving Catholic family and was an altar server from an early age. He attended Catholic grade school and high school. As a freshman at Benedictine College, he started to attend daily Mass and began praying the Rosary daily. Even the death of his older sister from a car accident, when he was thirteen, deepened and strengthened his faith. He wrote, “There is no situation too dark and difficult for our Lord and his healing light.”
The summer after his first year in college, Fr. Seth traveled with Legionary Summer Candidates (those discerning a call to the Legionary priesthood) to a Regnum Christi conference in Atlanta. On the way, they stopped for the night and had a time of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. There he perceived that the Lord was calling him to join the Legionaries of Christ. Not long after, he entered the novitiate in Cheshire and the rest, as they say, is history. Bishop Bruskewitz spoke of the role of priests to be teachers, shepherds, and priests: “You have been taken from among men and appointed on their behalf for things that pertain to God” … “Preach the Gospel, shepherd God’s people, and celebrate the sacred liturgy, especially the Lord’s sacrifice.” After reflecting on his own faith journey, he gives this advice and encouragement: “The Lord did so many other things in my heart to
prepare me for my vocation. The more we dig into our own past with the eyes of faith, the more we can see how our Heavenly Father is always acting, no matter what the situation. He works in the heart of each one of us. He plants desires in each one of our hearts and speaks to us through people, events, and opportunities. Do not be afraid to look into your heart and let the Lord speak to you!”