By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published September 15, 2011
Father Tim Hepburn has moved from the Georgia Tech campus where he ministered to college students as the Catholic chaplain to aiding women and men as the archdiocesan vocations director as they listen for God’s call in their lives.
A native of Atlanta, Father Hepburn was ordained in 1993 and later earned a post-graduate licentiate in sacred theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. He has served as a pastor, a chaplain at Blessed Trinity High School, Roswell, and chaplain at Emory University and Agnes Scott College. Since 2008, he served at Georgia Tech. He is a popular speaker and musician.
He recently answered a few questions from The Georgia Bulletin about his new position:
GB: Are there any similarities in serving as a college chaplain and the vocation director?
Father Tim: The greatest similarity is that both college chaplaincy and vocations ministry are services of evangelization. People usually hear Christ’s call when they have encountered him, first through conversion, then as intentional disciples. Christ is the one who calls college students to be true disciples; he is the one who calls people to consecrated life, to priesthood. Helping people get into the position to hear Christ’s call and answer it seems to be the similarity.
GB: You spent a few years working among young adults at Georgia Tech. What did you learn from them that will help in your current assignment? Do women and men at that age now know about what it means to have a vocation?
Father Tim: What I am trying to learn throughout life is to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. In a particular way at GT I found that pastoral planning was not what brought people to encounter Christ. I had to pray and wait to see what the Holy Spirit was doing in the students and then support it with whatever resources were needed. I grew in my belief that the ability to listen to God is not just a fruit of maturity but of faith. I was blessed to see young college students growing in their ability to listen to God and some of these, I hope and pray, will become our seminarians.
GB: How is the experience different now for people considering a priestly vocation from when you thought about your vocation?
Father Tim: Since I began to hear the call to priesthood, the spirituality of discerning a vocation to the priesthood really hasn’t changed much. There are still questions about how to know if this is God’s will, whether we are worthy of God’s calling, questions about chastity and obedience. What has changed is the vocations office. When I started there were only part-time vocation directors, 12 seminarians, mostly Anglo. Now four full-time staff serve the many who inquire about vocations and about 40 seminarians from Atlanta and countries all over the world. Today also, there is much more concern about ensuring that the church remains a safe environment for all.
GB: What are you most looking forward to as vocation director?
Father Tim: Vacation (just kidding). Going home (it’s 9:15 p.m.). Real answer: I am looking forward to seeing real, true, converted, holy, loving, wise, spirit-filled disciples of Jesus answer his call. To seeing men and women lie down on the church floor and consecrate their lives to the Lord. To seeing priests raise up the body and blood of the Lord at the altar, minutes after their ordination.