A Shelton man’s journey to becoming a priest

Often times when younger, Karlo Hocurscak could be found socializing with the priests. Father Joseph Palacino of St. Jerome’s Church in Norwalk is affectionately known to Karlo and his two brothers, Michael and Steven, as “Grandpa.”

It was through Palacino that the Hocurscak boys learned their instructions for being altar servers at their previous parish, St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Shelton.

Karlo Hocurscak, the son of John and Nancy (Leonetti) Hocurscak, recently was ordained as a priest in Boston.

Attended Shelton schools

Hocurscak attended schools in the Shelton district through the sixth grade, until April 1987. After graduating high school, he went on to Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, where he received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering.

While attending WPI, he served as a lector and eucharistic minister at campus Masses.

After graduating from college, Hocurscak found work as a chemical engineer. He traveled a lot on business trips, and was able to sightsee in his spare time.

He later worked in the computer software engineering field, handling customer support responsibilities.

Camping, photography and wine-making

Hocurscak has a passion for hiking and camping, and picked up photography, processing professional quality photographs and selling them online. He also enjoyed making wine and beer as a hobby.

Later, while in the seminary, people would sometimes ask his parents in Shelton how their son was doing and his father might reply, “He’s learning how to turn the water into wine.” Another line his father liked using was, “He’s learning to walk on water.” But John Hocurscak always would end on the note, “Karlo is doing great.”

Attending a retreat at a seminary

At his hometown parish in Massachusetts, Hocurscak served as a lector, eucharistic minister and greeter. One year, his pastor talked him into going on a retreat at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass. At the time, Hocurscak thought a little about becoming a priest

The following year, the pastor got him to attend the retreat again. This time, Hocurscak gave the idea of entering the priesthood more serious thought.

In the meantime, he requested permission from his place of work to take an extended leave of absence, so he could travel across country to hike and camp. He received the needed permission.

After returning to work, he began thinking more and more about entering the seminary, and soon began talking with officials at the Boston Archdiocese about the idea.

Began studies in 2008

All formalities then were completed, and Hocurscak started his studies in 2008 at St. John’s Seminary. His first two years focused on philosophy because he had mainly taken science classes at WPI, and then for the next four years he studied theology.

Hocurscak’s mother Nancy had an email conversation with the pastor when her son first entered the seminary and was told by him, “I could see in Karlo a vocation to the priesthood after knowing him for only a few months ... There is something about your son — an aura, a presence — that spoke to me and said that I should encourage and invite this man to consider the priesthood.”

‘Point him in the right direction’

Nancy Hocurscak said she always saw in her son Karlo the possibility he might pursue this vocation. “He just needed someone to point him in the right direction at the proper time, and that time is always in God’s time,” she said.

On Jan. 18 of this year, Hocurscak was ordained to the Transitional Diaconate. This date happened to be the anniversary of his paternal grandfather’s death, for whom Karlo was named after. He never met his grandfather because he died in 1968.

“The diaconate ordination falling on that same date, gave us a warm sense that grandpa was with us in spirit on that special day,” Nancy Hocurscak said.

Ordained as a priest

Father Karlo was ordained as a diocesan priest on May 24 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. The ceremony was officiated by Seán Patrick Cardinal O’Malley, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boston.

John and Nancy Hocurscak attended the ceremony, and now are looking forward to their son celebrating a Mass in their hometown of Shelton. The Rev. Karlo Hocurscak is expected to oversee Mass at St. Lawrence Church in Shelton on Aug. 24 at 11:30 a.m.