Paul Jang Han Goo
December 3, 2012
THE B.C. CATHOLIC
Paul Jang Han Goo remembers the first time he fell in love. He was at Mass in a Seattle church and realized he wanted to spend the rest of his life serving the Lord.
"After receiving the Eucharist, when I returned to my pew, I felt butterflies in my stomach; that's the expression some people describe as love," said the 30-year-old seminarian at the Seminary of Christ the King in Mission.
"That was a surprise, and I thought, 'Wow! How did that happen?'"
Born in Korea in 1982 to a Catholic family, Goo fell away from his faith after graduating from high school in Port Moody. "I had doubts and many questions."
He doubted God's existence, and couldn't find anyone to answer his questions about faith to his satisfaction. "I was very disillusioned," he said. "At one point I realized that I couldn't say I believed in God."
He realized years later that on a deeper level his lack of faith was a personal issue with pride.
"If I had had humility I would have stuck with him."
Goo lived a secular lifestyle after high school and studied at the University of Waterloo, where he majored in computer science.
In his final year he met a devout Protestant girl named Katie who challenged him to seek God again.
"She was really devout and she prayed for me," Goo said. "I read the Bible seriously for the first time. Before then I had never opened the Bible on my own initiative."
Goo read a chapter of the Gospels every day and started to pray regularly. He realized that God's values were good but his secular values were poor. One by one, Goo cleansed himself of bad habits, such as going clubbing, binge drinking, using foul language, etc.
"It was after praying that it dawned on me that following God's values freed me."
Goo's conversion through Protestant friends led him to worship as a Protestant. He said Protestants at university were more vocal about their faith, and he didn't meet any Catholics who were open about theirs.
After graduation, Goo moved to Seattle and worked for Amazon.com. He continued to attend a Protestant church while living there.
That changed two years later after Goo's mother Ann gave him a book by a Lutheran reporter named Wayne Weible who had converted to Catholicism while researching reported Marian apparitions in the former Yugoslavian republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Goo was moved by the reporter's story and visited Medjugorje with his parents.
While on his trip Goo found none of the resistance he had once felt towards the Catholic faith.
"I could believe in the real presence in the Eucharist again and I knew I wanted to return to the Church."
He described his return to Seattle as a "honeymoon experience" and said Mass became the best part of the week. He also prayed the rosary every night.
Goo started to consider the priesthood seriously and didn't date, quit his job and moved back to Vancouver in 2008.
After taking a year to discern his calling to the priesthood, he entered the seminary.
"I love it there," Goo said. "I've gotten to know myself a lot better and I have grown up as a person."
ALREADY A LEADER
Goo is known as a leader at the seminary, especially on pro-life issues. He became an active voice for the victims of abortion after participating in two cross-Canada Crossroads Walks during the summers of 2010 and 2011, sharing the truth about abortion.
"I find Paul is very mature, committed, and disciplined," observed vocations director Father Joseph Nguyen. "We need priests to stand by this issue."
"Paul is an exemplary leader," added Mark McGuckin, another Christ the King seminarian. He said Goo has spurred other seminarians to be active in the pro-life movement.
PRO LIFE ADVOCATE
Goo believes the abortion crisis is the greatest injustice in the world. "There have been abortions done before, but not on the scale they are now."
Goo, in his third year at the seminary, hopes to be received as a candidate in the seminary Dec. 27. He said his journey to the priesthood is becoming more intense, and he feels very humble before God.
"The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know."
But despite the challenge of the seminary, Goo considers the priesthood a blessing.
"Everything I do will be for the glory of God. How good is that?"