[00:00:00] Sophia Lebano: [00:00:00] Hi welcome back to another episode of Hear and Now podcast. I’m very excited to have father Dan today to talk about all the things, priesthood, vocations, Franciscan, everything. So father Dan, welcome to the show.
[00:00:13] Fr Dan Molochko: [00:00:13] Thank you very much. It’s good to be here. Thank you for having me on,
[00:00:16] Sophia Lebano: [00:00:16] of course. Yes. So let’s just jump right in.
[00:00:18] Tell everybody who you are, what you do, where you’re from, all the things.
[00:00:21] Fr Dan Molochko: [00:00:21] Sure. Um, so I am father Dan Molochko I’m 34, actually. I’ll be 35 in September. And, uh, in the diocese of Richmond, Virginia. Um, I am currently stationed, uh, in Suffolk, Virginia. I’m sorry, Portsmouth, Virginia. Um, which is. Maybe 30 minutes from where I grew up in Virginia Beach.
[00:00:41] Um, and so I’ve been fortunate enough. My first assignment as a brief was in Hampton, which is about 30 minutes from where I grew up. Now I’m a second assignment is here in Portsmouth. It’s another 30 minutes just in a different direction. So I’m able to go back and, uh, like yesterday, um, you know, the July 5th holiday, I was able to, uh, spend time with my brother and my mom and my dad all at my parents’ house at the beach.
[00:01:03] Um, So I’ve been a priest for just over two years now. Ordained on June 1st, 2019. Um, and I currently started a cluster of four parishes on the parochial vicar here. And we have, as I said, four parishes, um, chaplain to a pre-K through eight grade school Catholic school. Um, I’m the chaplain for the Hampton fire department.
[00:01:30] Uh, in the priesthood, I was a paramedic and I still hold all my paramedic certifications. So, uh, last year when I lived in Hampton, I was fortunate enough the very first Sunday that. At my parish, the very first Sunday as a priest in full-time ministry in walk, the guy that I hadn’t seen in 10 years, and he and I had been to paramedics school together.
[00:01:51] And he is now a battalion chief in the hampton fire department. So he looked at me and he said, you’re our chaplain, no question. So I still, every Thursday I go over and ride on an ambulance with the hamster fire department and still work as paramedics. Um, well, I do, I do a lot of CrossFit. I’m a CrossFit coach.
[00:02:08] And so I coached probably three classes of CrossFit a week, as well as working out, um, five times a week. Um, probably, I don’t know, good. Two, two and a half hours a day. Um, and I have a, not so subtle goal of crushing father, Mike Schmitz and in a competition one day. I mean, he’ll, he’ll always outpreach me, but I’m hoping, I mean, I might be able to like help lift him one day.
[00:02:34] So, yeah, that’s kind of me in a nutshell.
[00:02:37] Sophia Lebano: [00:02:37] I love it. I love how you kind of break the stereotype of priests sitting at home, praying all day long, you know, like you’ve got all the things going for you. Um,
[00:02:46] Fr Dan Molochko: [00:02:46] I mean, I do pray. I promise I do
[00:02:50] Sophia Lebano: [00:02:50] well. Yes, of course the given. Um, but always when I was in grade school, when the seminarians would come visit, everybody’s like, do you guys get to play video games?
[00:02:57] Like, do you have phones? Do you, are [00:03:00] you like in real life? Um, so I love that is he really have everything going for you. So now you’re a PA you’re a paramedic. You still work as a paramedic. How did you make that shift to becoming a priest? Like what was your vocation story?
[00:03:16] Fr Dan Molochko: [00:03:16] Um, I mean, just kind of taking it from that point where I was a paramedic and decided to go to seminary.
[00:03:21] I mean, there’s a whole bunch of backstory, but yeah. Basically I had graduated from Franciscan in 2008 and, uh, pretty severely just like jumped off the deep end of party lifestyle kind of abandoned. Um, stopped going to mass because it was annoying to have my mom like elbow me in the rib and be like, you still smell drunk, which I probably was to be fair.
[00:03:46] So, uh, like I just stopped going stop caring, got into a bad relationship, you know? And so eventually I found myself, um, finding on unrest in who I was, and I wanted to do something that would. Get rid of that, that feeling of discontent that I was feeling. Um, and so I thought the answer was foreign travel.
[00:04:11] You know, like both of my parents when they were in their twenties and thirties lived abroad in Europe and traveled around my father in the Navy, my mom just have kind of hippy and, uh, they both had this desire to travel and I was like, maybe that’s it. Maybe that’s what’s missing from my life. So I used my skills as a paramedic to get a job, uh, contracting for the United States.
[00:04:33] Um, and I found a job in the middle east, and I thought that would be a great job because if I get blown up by a roadside bomb, I don’t really care if I don’t want to come back with a huge bag of cash and, you know, I’ll figure out life being much richer afterwards. Um, and so it was there that I just, I realized very quickly.
[00:04:55] Um, when you move to a foreign country on the drop of a hat, uh, you don’t know anyone there you’re not prepared to go. I had no idea what the culture was. I had no idea anything to do with the language. I had no idea what I was really getting myself into. And so at that point I was grasping at straws for anything that felt like home.
[00:05:15] Um, and so the one thing I knew. Was going to daily mass. And so fortunately we had a Catholic chaplain on, uh, camp era, John. And, uh, I would make it like my only goal during the day to go to daily mass because I was like, well, at least it gives me something to do. I have to catch the bus to get on base. It takes me awhile to get through the day.
[00:05:37] You know, then I have to walk to the chapel, then I’m there for maybe an hour. And then I got to do all of it in reverse. So that kills at least like three hours of my day. So at least a chunk of time taken out. Well, the trick was that the, um, the army chaplain and the Catholic priest father Ray co-pack, uh, I don’t know his, if he was just [00:06:00] amazing at preaching or if it was just, he was speaking the words that I needed to hear.
[00:06:05] I haven’t heard him preach outside of the desert, but when he would preach them, like just in the short five minute homily, I knew that he would like speaking directly to my soul. And I, I knew that I needed, um, him to help guide me. And so I contacted him after math one day and I was like, Hey, would you be open to doing spiritual direction?
[00:06:28] And he said, yeah, absolutely. So we started meeting and, uh, it was actually. He that brought up the idea. He was like, Hey, would you ever consider going to seminary? What do you think about being a priest? And I was like, no, no, that’s not for me, father. And my past is too checkered my presence on certain, in my future, who knows, you know, I was just like, this, this isn’t a thing for me.
[00:06:49] Um, and so over the next two weeks between our meetings, um, it was really all I could do. But think about it. Like I would watch him at mass. I was trading my holy hour. I would say the liturgy of the hours doing my rosary. And all of it was like, okay, maybe there’s something there. I would watch him at mass and be like, can I do what he’s doing?
[00:07:09] Is this really what I’m being called to do? And so two weeks later I came back and I was like, I can’t shake this feeling. Like, what did you do to me? Uh, and so then kind of laughed at me. He was like, well, cool. Now we have something to talk about for the next eight months. Um, because we had kind of gotten into a stagnant position in spiritual directions.
[00:07:27] Like nothing had really changed in my life. Like all of the problems were back in America. I was like, cool. All I do is work out, drink coffee, and go to work here. So like, it’s pretty good. Um, but yeah, so for the next eight months it was discernment, discernment, discernment. Uh, my undergrad is actually in elementary education.
[00:07:46] So, um, I mean, I enjoy educating. I’ve really liked teaching. Um, kids are fun, you know, like it’s, it’s a great environment to be in, but I knew before I graduated that, that wasn’t my full-time colleague. And I really think, you know, people talk about vocation to the priesthood being like such a distinct color.
[00:08:04] If you are called to be a teacher that is a distinct calling because. There are so many people that I think got into it because they thought it would be easy. And then they just ended up being terrible teachers. But like when you find those people that are like, this is my life’s calling, this is what I’m doing.
[00:08:21] And you know, they’re amazing at it. Um, so anyway, my life educating, um, but my, my heart wasn’t in it. So I decided, uh, actually through an ex-girlfriend of mine, she was like, well, maybe you should become firefighters. And. That’s how I got into the paramedic world was because in order to get hired by a fire department, you know, the top candidates all have their paramedic, um, certificates.
[00:08:46] So once I found emergency medicine, though, I didn’t want to fight firing just wanted to do medicine. So I’ve always enjoyed helping people in that way as well. And then with the help of father, co-pack just kind of seeing that, um, [00:09:00] maybe my life was oriented towards something more, you know, no matter what I teach someone, they will.
[00:09:05] No matter how many times I bring someone back from the dead, they will die. So maybe it was best to set people up or to help them prepare for a life that doesn’t end, uh, be that spiritual guide that helps them. Not because I figured it out. Not because I’m perfect, but because, um, I just try again, like I’m willing to walk with them, the good and bad moments.
[00:09:30] Um, yeah, so that led me to go to seminary and even in seminary, it was a constant thing. Should I shouldn’t. I, um, the very first day I moved in seminary. They have this tradition at my school. I went to, um, where like you pull up in your car and they immediately take your keys, take your car, take everything that you’ve brought.
[00:09:52] They whisk you away into the chapel to give you a blessing. And then your car is immediately unpacked by seminarian in like four minutes. And all of your stuff is brought up to your room and just like dumb. And so like, In half an hour. I was just sitting any to my room and I’m like, uh, well, I guess I live here now when my phone rings at that point, and it was a new Orleans area code and I was looking at it and questioned.
[00:10:16] I’m like, who do I know in new Orleans that I don’t already have their number? Like, this seems odd. And this was back in 2013. So, I mean, I guess robo calls were a thing, but it wasn’t when you were like getting the extended warranty call every five minutes. So I answer the phone and it’s the, I think it was the director of EMS or someone in the EMS department for new Orleans.
[00:10:39] And this is a job that I had applied to two and a half years before. And this was like my dream job. If I could have worked anywhere in the world, it would have been new Orleans. That’s. Um, and the guy was on the phone offering me a job. He’s like, yep. All you gotta do is come down here and we’re ready to hire you.
[00:10:56] Wait what? So I looked around my room and thought not unpacked yet, but all this stuff back in the car and moved to new Orleans today. Um, but I, I thought, you know, Almost a year of discernment. Maybe I should at least give this a try. If you know, I’m supposed to be in new Orleans, that will be available later.
[00:11:17] Um, so I stayed, um, but it wasn’t until like the fourth year of seminary that I actually felt like God was calling me to be a priest. You know, I think there’s this notion that people have when, when the guy answers seminary, is that he just know that it is absolutely 100%. He knows these calls, the priestess.
[00:11:36] And I think for the majority of God, Actually, I would say for 90% of the ones that make it through, they have no idea. The first couple of years, the ones who are certain that they’re called to the priesthood washed out in the first year or two, you know, like they can’t handle it. They’re not cause they got some psychological issue, but.
[00:11:56] Yeah. It’s really like all of my friends that I made it through with them that, [00:12:00] you know, are now ordained. We all were like, yeah, I don’t know about this for the first couple of years. So, but yeah, no, I’ve been ordained since, uh, 2019. And I think my quickest discernment of vocation advice for anyone entering seminary or religious life is what someone told me.
[00:12:20] My very first one. When he said, just keep going until they kick you out. So either you will fail and get kicked out or you will graduate and they will evict you. So go until they get you out.
[00:12:35] Sophia Lebano: [00:12:35] That’s pretty good advice. I’d say, um, that’s such a crazy story though. Like, do, do people ever hearing your story?
[00:12:42] Are they like shocked? What’s their reaction?
[00:12:46] Fr Dan Molochko: [00:12:46] Um, yeah. You know, and it, it’s funny cause I think I’ve told it so many times. I it’s almost become like, uh, just something you recite without really thinking about like all of the emotion and the toil and the struggle and everything that went into it. So yeah, people are definitely caught off guard.
[00:13:05] Um, When they first hear it because it’s probably not the norm. Um, I think also people are caught off guard by my appearance. Anyway, when they walk in, you know, my arms are mostly covered in tattoos and, uh, they, I often get the reaction, like I’ll go to the hospital and I’ll walk into the hospital room and say, hello, I’m father Dan.
[00:13:25] And the family would just kind of look at me and sometimes they’ll just. Oh, okay. I look at him as a, you were expecting someone older and fatter, weren’t you? Yeah, it was really, we’re sorry to disappoint. Um, but yeah, I think people are pleasantly surprised because I don’t think they’re scandalized, but I think they are, um, I think impressed with a story of God’s mercy, you know, story of God’s grace shining.
[00:13:58] Um, sinful decisions. Like there’s a whole bunch more backstory. Um, but like it’s, it’s mostly yeah. Uh, a tale of the mercy and goodness of the Lord more than it is any like, Hey, look at me. I’m okay.
[00:14:15] Sophia Lebano: [00:14:15] No, that’s, that’s so true. I just think redemption, you know, it’s really, um, redeeming in your story and it can be a show of show of mercy for other people, you know, who are, who are looking for your story.
[00:14:28] Um, so to kind of go back, like you said to a backstory, where did the breakdown happen between your faith life and kind of getting involved in partying, drinking kind of like you said, going off the deep end.
[00:14:42] Fr Dan Molochko: [00:14:42] I mean, it was not more than turning 21 and actually started drinking. Um, so I, I didn’t drink in high school.
[00:14:48] I didn’t drink in college until I was like, I guess I was like 29 or 20 years and 10 months old before I started drinking. Because I was [00:15:00] at home over the summer and my parents had had a party at the house and they were like, Hey, we have this extra case of beer, neither, your father and I are going to drink it.
[00:15:09] You know, you’re about to be 21. Do you want to take, do you want to have it? And so I would come home from EMT school every day and put a beer on my desk and like struggled to drink it because I just didn’t like beer. I didn’t, you know, at the time I didn’t drink at all. And then just slowly over that summer, just having a beer a day.
[00:15:27] Like I was like, oh, okay. Yeah. I actually look forward to it, joyful thing, but my family has a history of addiction. And so, you know, we all, uh, enjoy it too much. And so I just started drinking to the point, not of enjoyment, but just getting drunk all the time. My like slip and fall into addiction. So, I mean, I I’ve actually, as of yesterday, um, just hit six years sober.
[00:15:53] So, you know, like I, that’s another part of the redemption. I no longer drink. Uh, but that was the linchpin. That was the deciding point of like, and it really, I don’t think it was, it was not a conscious decision. It was just something I started to get into a habit of life. And then it just got out of control.
[00:16:14] Sophia Lebano: [00:16:14] Um, yeah. Wow. Um, well, 6 years, that’s crazy. Congratulations. Um, after, I mean, I guess after six years, is it just a period of reflection for you? You know, do you think about it a lot?
[00:16:28] Fr Dan Molochko: [00:16:28] Um, you mean like drinking or the,
[00:16:31] Sophia Lebano: [00:16:31] um, just like your, how far you’ve come, I guess.
[00:16:36] Fr Dan Molochko: [00:16:36] No, I don’t sit there and be like, man, I’m awesome.
[00:16:40] I mean, I, it’s definitely given me a soft spot, I think in my heart for like broken and damaged people. Um, I, as awkward as it is to say like some of my favorite people are alcoholics because see the amount of brutal honesty that they live life with. It’s just, it’s beautiful. And like, I think that everyone should, at some point attend a 12 step program of their choice because it is the best free therapy that you’re ever going to get.
[00:17:17] Like you probably, aren’t going to be the worst one in the room, but even if you are, who cares, you’re probably not going to be the best one in the room, but even if you are, who cares. You’re going to walk away with something to be like, oh man, like my story is not the same as that person, but wow. I can definitely use the same coping tool that they’ve developed or I can definitely, you know, that’s an interesting way to look at life.
[00:17:41] Um, I mean, even to the simple fact, I remember the guy that I would, or the home group that I would go to in Baltimore and seminary. Um, there was a guy in there. Would often say is like, you know, I get to go to work today. I don’t have to go to, I get to go to work today. How thankful I am that I’m not a degenerate.
[00:18:00] [00:18:00] Because I’ve, I’ve gotten this step program to work, you know, like, um, I think so many of us look at something like work, I have to do this. I, this is something I just want to be free and do it. It’s like, Hey, you don’t actually have to have that Jap. You could be penniless and without it, you know? And so I, I think first of all, I think I lost the entire beginning of your question.
[00:18:24] I’m rambling, but. Yeah, I think AA, I think all of these programs are great. Oh, do I sit back? No. Um, so I would say that I’m thankful for every day of it. I also think that there’s been an extra ordinary grace given to me. Um, I mean, I, in my own recovery, um, the first couple of months, it was terrible.
[00:18:50] Absolutely terrible. I just thought about drinking nonstop 24 hours a day. Um, and then it was, you know, like a little victory when it was only 23 hours a day. Um, but I remember my brother and I were in the car, we were on the way it’s my grandfather’s funeral. And so we were driving from Virginia to Connecticut and, uh, towards the end of the trip, I think I just looked at him and I said something to the effect of like, Hey, do you ever think, like when you’re.
[00:19:22] 85 years old or something like if you’re in a nursing home and there’s nothing else to do, do you ever think you’d like to go back to drinking and he just kind of stopped and he was silent for a minute and he looked at me. He was like, no, but no, I’ve made up my choice. Why would I go back on that?
[00:19:39] That’s stupid. And like, in that moment for me was this like watershed of just like clarity. I was like, oh, okay. Yeah. I get that, that seems dumb. And like, from that moment on, I don’t think I’ve ever had another cravings, like actually drink, you know what I mean? Like the underlying tendencies of my personality defects that drove me to drink, oh, those are still there.
[00:20:03] But like the actual wanting to drink from that moment, I think there was literally grace infused in that conversation with my brother, because. That was like eight months in and from there till now it’s been, I want to say it’s been easy, but it hasn’t been hard. Yeah.
[00:20:21] Sophia Lebano: [00:20:21] That’s incredible though. Wow. I love how those little moments can just change it when you’re not even thinking.
[00:20:27] Um, so kind of, you know, cause I go to Franciscan. What was like, for instance, life at Franciscan like for you, do you, were you in a household? Anything like
[00:20:36] Fr Dan Molochko: [00:20:36] that? Yeah. Oh, it was wonderful. I mean, So funny enough story. Like I never actually visited the school until I was there for freshman orientation.
[00:20:47] No, that’s not true. I was there. It’s now called LEAD, but it used to be called like the young apostles or something like that. The conference, the summer conferences, they have, like the group of people, you apply a bunch of [00:21:00] young people that come in. Yeah. It’s called lead. Help it. The first iteration of it.
[00:21:04] And people from that group, like, I will still talk to, to this day, maybe not all the time, but I mean, there’s like a handful of them four or five that I kept up with and still know and talk to. And the funny thing was is that like four of them were going to Franciscan in the fall. So, like I saw them at, uh, uh, young apostles and then like saw them in the fall.
[00:21:25] But until I was there, and that was only, I think, a month before freshmen orientation before then I had never been to the campus. I just kind of applied. And so I visited all sorts of Virginia schools, like local colleges that, you know, a couple hours away from where I lived or close by and just really felt like that.
[00:21:44] Dark and gloom and cloud hanging over him. And then I talked to my youth minister’s wife who went to Franciscan in the nineties and like her description of it. I was like, I want to go there. So it was the only school I ever applied to. I got in the day before Thanksgiving, my senior year, and I never liked.
[00:22:01] So, yeah, it’s probably not the best way to discern college, but I did it. Um, and then when I got there, I mean, it was awesome. I remember my mom was very on the fence, a lot of money. I’m not sure it’s worth it. I’ve heard good things about it, but at the same time, we know when she was done with that week of like freshman orientation, she’s like, there’s nowhere else.
[00:22:24] I want you to be here. I don’t care how much it costs. Um, and so my kind of Franciscan was amazing. I, the very first week, I mean, so I lived in first. It’s weird the way they numbered it. I don’t know if they still do, but we lived in first for Francis, which was the second floor of Francis, but the first floor was like built into the ground in the hill.
[00:22:48] So anyway, I was on SOS wing and, um, Again, like SOS was pretty much the only household I ever looked at. I mean, in order to join us the west, they make you go look at different other households. You have to go to like two other Lord’s days. And it’s like, I hated all of them. And then when I got back to SOS, Lord there’s no, this is where I belong.
[00:23:09] Um, I guess other people not listening or listening have no idea. SOS stands for serving our savior. Um, and yeah, I lived on SOS spring and was there my freshmen and sophomore. A year, junior year, I was the coordinator, so I just moved the rooms in the same hallway. Um, and then the, my first year there, um, Dr.
[00:23:34] Bob rice. Yeah. Yeah, it was his first year as a staff member or a faculty member. Um, and so like his family had just moved to town. And he was approached by our coordinator at the time to become our faculty advisor. He had no idea what a household was. He was like, I don’t know, what do I have to do for this?
[00:23:55] Sure. I guess that’s the only SOS was like a ragtag group [00:24:00] of eight. I think maybe we had seven or eight guys. I think I was the only intent that whole year I made number eight ethics. Um, so it was not a big commitment for him. Well, I started, um, babysitting for his children. He and Jen had just had there, or I guess Ellie was like a year old or something like that.
[00:24:23] And then they had a three-year-old five-year-old seven-year-old. Who you might know now, John is a senior at Franciscan. You’ll probably run into him. Um, anyway. Yeah, so I started babysitting for them every Wednesday and then just saying for dinner. And that was my freshman year. And then, so by the time I became a senior, they had an extra room.
[00:24:41] They had a mother-in-law suite in the attic so me and my best friend moved into their house. I lived with Bob and Jen. Um, like there. Call me their uncle. I go back probably twice a year to visit them still. Um, yeah. So SOS household. Franciscans, you know, the rices, everything was amazing. Um, I started as a theology major cause I had an inkling that maybe I was called to the priesthood.
[00:25:09] And I think at the end of my first semester, I was like, theology is hard and I hate that I’m not doing this. So it took me another semester, but I th I switched into education by the, uh, my sophomore year, the fall of my sophomore year. And, but it was great. I mean, The environment, uh, that Franciscan offers just, you know, like there’s so much goodness coming out of there.
[00:25:35] And especially now that father date’s pivonka is at the house. He is one of my idols. I mean, I look up to him as like, that’s what a priest is, you know what I mean? Um, and so I think he is doing so much more to foster Franciscan, not in the image of a father, Mike Scanlon, but like kind of moving the ball along.
[00:26:00] That same mission that father might had. Cause when I was there, father Michael chancellor is, but he was slowly getting towards retirement. Um, so he wasn’t doing much, but I mean like the initial push and change and everything that father Mike did, I think father Dave is doing a wonderful job to keep that going and to push it further, you know?
[00:26:21] Um, and so, yeah, I’m rambling again, but. Question about the experience of Franciscan I mean, I suggested it and the one in everyone, if I could I’d have every minimally interested Catholic who wants to attend higher education, go to Franciscan. I
[00:26:40] Sophia Lebano: [00:26:40] agree. Yes. I mean, I’m biased too, but yes, I agree. Um, I mean we just, we went to steubie.
[00:26:49] Uh, I think at the beginning of June and we happened to run into Bob rice and he is just a friendliest man alive. Like I think it’s great. Um, and my mom took a class with him online, a couple, I [00:27:00] think, last semester. Um, and there was no way he would have known her, but she’s like, hi, like I was in your class, whatever.
[00:27:06] And. Yes. Thank you so much. Like I’m so glad that you’re here. I’m so glad you’re talking to me. Um, and I switched my major and he was not too happy that I’m not a theology major anymore. He’s like, please make it your minor. Um, but it was great. He’s just such a great person. Um, and I just love Franciscan and I get just such a great school.
[00:27:28] Fr Dan Molochko: [00:27:28] I mean, boom, a bunch of weirdos there, but at the same time, There’s no better place that can foster and grow. I think the faith of a young Catholic individual in their 18 to 24 year old time.
[00:27:42] Sophia Lebano: [00:27:42] Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. So I’m very happy to be part of that community. Um, so to kind of make the switch back to what you were saying about being a paramedic, how are you able to balance that while being a priest?
[00:27:54] Is it a lot? I’m sure there’s a lot of balance that has to go into that.
[00:27:58] Fr Dan Molochko: [00:27:58] Well, I mean, so the good thing about it is that. First, my pastor allows me to do this. You know, this isn’t something I can do independent of, uh, him and the obligations to the parishes. Um, second is, is it’s something that I do. It takes an entire day out of my ministry, you know?
[00:28:18] Um, but it is something that I look at as ministry. Like, yeah, it’s fun. But my intent is not the same as it was when I was a full-time paramedic. Back when I was a full paramedic, full-time paramedic, you know, my, my hope and my every time I would pull into the parking lot of the rescue station was that.
[00:28:40] The worst and the craziest things were going to happen. So I could be there and save the day. Now, if I’m there to build relationships with the firefighters of the Hampton fire department, so that when the craziest and worst stuff happens, even if I’m not there, they feel comfortable reaching out to me.
[00:28:58] My business card is up. I think in every station, a lot of the men and women know me by sight. If not by. And, uh, know there’ve been times when I’ll be at the station and someone will just like pull me aside and be like, Hey, can I talk to you in this room real quick, something I’m dealing with or, um, you know, especially tragic calls.
[00:29:19] Like we had a. I think a three month old attacked by a German shepherd in the middle of the night and fatality. Um, and so the medic crew and the fire crew that responded to that, you know, like the brigade chief called me in and was like, you need to go talk to them. So, you know, two days later when they were on shift again, um, I just came in and sat and individually was able to like help them prop that, um, how are you, you know, like what’s going on in you, right.
[00:29:47] I’m not a mental health professional by any means, but you know, like I feel like I have some sort of ability to listen to people and just kind of pick up on, on what [00:30:00] they’re feeling and emoting. Um, yeah, I mean, if they needed further help, we obviously send them on to a mental health professionals, but it’s good to at least start the process of the critical incident stress management program.
[00:30:17] Have them talk in a way that they don’t feel because I’m not a mental health professional, it’s less stigma for them of like, oh, I had to go see the shrink other than, oh, I’m just, I was talking with father Dave, you know? Um, so it is. I don’t know if many people would consider ministry. I do. My boss does.
[00:30:38] That’s all that really matters. So, um, it’s, like I said, it’s one day a week and, uh,
[00:30:44] Sophia Lebano: [00:30:44] yeah, that’s awesome. So I’m sure that brings a lot of graces. Like you said to not feel like you’re talking to somebody you’re sitting on the couch and pouring out your problems to somebody. Um, but having somebody that is, I guess, rooted in faith to probably helps a lot of people.
[00:31:02] And are most of the people that you work with Catholic at all?
[00:31:06] Fr Dan Molochko: [00:31:06] Uh, if they are, they’ve not let me know. I mean, you know, so like there is, there’s not often a time, uh, when. Um, proselytizing or you’re, you know, like Bible or something or anything like that, but there’ve been times where the station Lieutenant will ask me a question and like one time in particular, I remember I was at the whiteboard teaching, basically a catechism class for an hour and a half in between calls.
[00:31:36] Because, you know, they asked like, Hey, what’s the difference between Catholic and Protestant? And I was like, how deep do you guys want to come down this rabbit hole? How much time do you have to? And I mean, I drew like a salvation history timeline from Adam all the way down to like present day. And it was great, but like, you know, That happened once in almost two years.
[00:31:57] Yeah. Other times it’s like, Hey, what is the Catholic church’s stance on this? How do you feel about this? Um, you know, just different things that sometimes they bring it up. But I, like I said, most of the time, it’s just me being there, being present to them and available if they want to talk. And that being said, I mean, like there are, I think 12 or 13 stations.
[00:32:22] With three different shifts of firefighters. I barely make it to four station because if I’m going to three stations and I hit one shift, every station that’s nine the week before I would be back and see the original people that I worked with. Right. You know, so there’s yet the job could be full time position, but, um, I’m able to do one day a week.
[00:32:44] Now. Hopefully the people that I know and see sunny. Pass it on to their friends and other firefighters and say like, Hey, you’re going through something, go call bothered it.
[00:32:56] Sophia Lebano: [00:32:56] Yeah. No, that’s so great. Your elementary ed [00:33:00] major is coming out. Right. That’s so great. So, um, and you kind of touched on it, but what’s your favorite part about being a priest?
[00:33:10] Fr Dan Molochko: [00:33:10] Uh, confessions by far? I mean, absolutely confession because it’s in the, and I used to have to always try. Balance that and be like, oh no, of course it’s math, it’s math, it’s math, you know? Cause people are like, oh, your heritage, you don’t. I mean, I love St math, but there is something much more personable about confession than there is about math.
[00:33:35] Like when I’m at math. Yeah. There can be four to 500 people in front of me. I may be touching them individually with what I’m saying or the, just the beauty of the math in general is affecting their soul. I mean sure. But I rarely ever know that, you know, like, I mean, I really can’t think of an occasion where someone has come up to me and been like, you just changed my life as opposed to the confessional where people will regularly, even if they don’t say anything, you can tell that their life.
[00:34:10] Completely changed. You know, I mean, I had, um, the hospital called the other day where the gentlemen hadn’t been to confession 72 years. Oh, wow. Yeah. That’s insane. And now being able to just at this point in his life, I don’t know how much time he has left could live another 15 years. I mean, he’s in his nineties, so probably not, but I don’t know how much time he has left, but I know at this point, like after we were done, he said, man, I hope I don’t ever commit another sin between now.
[00:34:42] And when I die there, if you do just call me back. But like, you can tell that you’ve changed the lives. I’m not the source of grace by any means, but the vehicle through which grace flows and patches, the most powerful experience, I think anyone can ever theory and you get to. Um, and so by far, my favorite thing about being a priest is confession because there is.
[00:35:09] So much fear and trepidation before. Yeah. Mostly on the part of the Pentagon and afterwards, like they just leave and they’re always smiling, you know, like it just sucks. You can tell that something is different. They may go out and do the same things immediately, but at least for a moment, things are different than you’ve affected their life in a way that is unlike any other profession.
[00:35:35] Sophia Lebano: [00:35:35] I think you’re the first priest. Heard say that before. Um, most of the priests that I’ve gone and heard from, and everything has said that transforming transubstantiation, that is their key moment of being a priest. But yeah. I think actually offering that to people to know like confession is your favorite part.
[00:35:55] It does make it a little less scary for people to have to go to confession and be [00:36:00] like, I have all these things I need to tell you. And you’re like, yup. Lam on me. It’s all good.
[00:36:06] Fr Dan Molochko: [00:36:06] I think it is the, I don’t want to say the most misunderstood thing, but I think it might be one of the things that Catholics do the most frequently.
[00:36:17] Kind of just wrote, you know, like they don’t really understand what they’re doing and to be fair, I mean, our catechesus stopped after second grade. Like you make your first confession and no one ever talks about it again. And I think it is not well understood. I mean, honestly until I became a freestyle and just heard the wide variety of like stuff that is allowed and lifted in the confession.
[00:36:46] For both the penitent and the priest to do. Like, I had no idea, like I had my one way that I went to confession and that’s what I learned when I was in second grade. That’s it. Um, and so I think it’s, yeah, just to talk about it and to aluminate it better for Catholics to understand in adulthood is wonderful.
[00:37:04] Um, and then beyond that, it’s like the fear that we feel about going to confession it’s. Look, it is all completely a trick of the devil to try and get you not to do it. Right. And, and first of all, no priest, I know cares what you say, but no one is sitting there and being like, this person is the worst I’ve ever heard.
[00:37:32] Like, even if you are, we don’t care. And so I think the, uh, The thought process of the penitence, is that like, oh, well I’m embarrassed. The father’s going to judge me. And this is going to like, he’s going to remember who I am and I’m going to have to wear a black, you know, a, on my chest for whatever I’ve done, but it’s like, you know, we don’t care what you’ve done.
[00:37:57] We only care that we can impart grace on you. Right. Uh, and. So, yeah. Bring it on, like your sin are boring. I can’t remember some things. Maybe it was Jose Maria screamo or John Vianney, one of the greats on confessions, but it’s like, your sins are born. Um, they make you all this same and there’s nothing you can say that hasn’t already been said.
[00:38:20] I mean, humanity has a long list of sins from history. You aren’t the first one that’s done that. So, uh, yeah, your sin makes you bold. Grace makes you interesting because it makes you money.
[00:38:34] Sophia Lebano: [00:38:34] Yes. No. That’s so that’s so awesome. I love that. So yes. This is your word of encouragement to go to confession if you have not.
[00:38:41] Oh, for sure. So to kind of wrap up everything I’ve, even though I just have a million more questions to ask, um, what would you say to somebody who is struggling in their faith right now? Whether that’s with grungy confession, or just really going back to church in this 2021 world.
[00:39:00] [00:39:00] Fr Dan Molochko: [00:39:00] Yeah. Um, well I think the, the starting point again, if you’re Catholic, um, go to confession, doesn’t matter if it’s been however many years or whatnot go to, because that is going to set you up to receive the most amount of grace from the Lord, and to be able to participate in his plan most.
[00:39:23] Um, second that there is a non-negotiable non-negotiable, but unspoken, uh, I don’t know if it’s an understanding or what, but like, if you aren’t praying every day, you’re not going to feel the presence of the Lord, or you’re not going to, you know, hear what he wants you to do. You’re not going to be able to discern easily.
[00:39:50] Um, What the Lord’s will is for you in the easiest, best way to have the best life possible is to discern what is God calling me to do today also in general, but today, specifically, like, what does he want me to do? If I’m not praying, then I’m not going to know that I’m not going to know that then it’s going to be just me making decisions.
[00:40:10] I’m the one making decisions and it’s, you know, all the weight rests on me as opposed to what do I feel God wants me to do today? Okay, cool. I’m gonna go. So go to confession, pray every day, if you aren’t. Uh, and this is my own thing, but I’m finding other priests are green heavily with me. If you aren’t doing some form of physical activity, four to seven times a week.
[00:40:35] I mean, like, depending on what your current level of fitness is, like, that’s going to negatively affect you. I don’t care if you’re 700 pounds and just moving your arm is your fitness level. Do it. If you’re a triathlete and doing a 20 mile run is your fitness level then, but you have to be able to, uh, express, sorry.
[00:41:01] You have to be able to fully incorporate. The mind, body and the soul into life. Right. And so if you’re just doing the mind and the soul, but you’re leaving out the body, like this seems a little ridiculous plus, um, training in some way, whether it’s Zoomba class or a CrossFit class, whether it’s, you know, cycling the Peloton thing or whatever you want.
[00:41:25] You’re going to face adversity. You’re going to get to a point where you say, I don’t want to do this anymore. And when you push through that, you’re going to achieve victory. And when you exceed victory in the physical life, then that translates perfectly to the spiritual life. When you’re tempted by sin, when you don’t want to fast, when you have all these things where you’re saying, I just want to quit.
[00:41:42] I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to be a part of this, but, you know, because of what you’ve done in the gym that I. You know, so like there’s such a strong correlation between spirituality and physicality. Um, that I don’t think it’s talked about enough. Um, that would be low on my list, [00:42:00] but it is something that people have to think about.
[00:42:02] So go to confession, try every day and work out
[00:42:05] Sophia Lebano: [00:42:05] that. Yeah. Again, you’re the first priest I’ve ever heard, recommend working out in the physical aspect, not just spiritually. Um, So, yes, I’ll take that to heart for real. Um, cause I need you,
[00:42:19] Fr Dan Molochko: [00:42:19] so again, like I’m not, I’m not saying that everyone has to be, you know, a top tier division, one professional athlete, I’m saying do whatever your current level of.
[00:42:29] Can handle and just enjoy it. Like having fun.
[00:42:33] Sophia Lebano: [00:42:33] Yeah. Yeah. Put on the music and just dance. That’s my, I love it. Um, so yes, this is so great. And I, again, just want to ask so many more questions, but to wrap it up, where can people find you if they want to reach out to you?
[00:42:48] Fr Dan Molochko: [00:42:48] Um, I mean, I’m on Facebook and Instagram.
[00:42:51] Uh, I think both of my names are just fr Dan Molochko father, Dan Molochko. Um, And then I guess if they really wanted to like email me, they could find it at, I think it’s firstname.lastname@example.org. Um, but yeah, it’s like just Google my name and you’ll find me.
[00:43:14] Sophia Lebano: [00:43:14] Yeah, no, like a down below for people to find, but father Dan, thank you.
[00:43:17] Thank you. Thank you so much. This is so
[00:43:19] Fr Dan Molochko: [00:43:19] awesome. Um, and then the words are in the spirit of father dave pivonka. Let’s go ahead and give you and all the listeners, the button before. Yeah, please. I think with the father, amen. The Lord, bless you. And keep you making kind of face upon you in shining this count on you.
[00:43:36] May the angels and saints intercede for you and then your guardian angel always lead you to know what the next right step in the Lord’s plan for you is they are mother intercedes to you and love. May almighty, God bless you. And all those who are listening, father, son, and holy spirit
[00:43:49] Sophia Lebano: [00:43:49] thank you so much. And thank you guys for tuning into this week’s episode.
[00:43:52] Hear and Now Podcast podcasts, have a wonderful week and we will see you next time. bye
It’s the 96th episode of Hear and Now Podcast! Thank you for joining me this week as I have Fr. Dan Molochko on to discuss his recovery, CrossFit, and his journey to the priesthood.
Find Fr Dan: Instagram
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