Q&A with Patrick Sharkey

This summer, we celebrated the 1-year anniversary of our new Director, Patrick Sharkey. As our new Palisades blog launches, we couldn’t think of a better first post than sharing some of Patrick’s insights with you! We hope you enjoy getting to know him over the next several years.

Q: It’s been 1 year as Director at the Palisades. Could you describe your first impressions of working at the Retreat Center? Has it met your expectations, or have there been a lot of surprises?

Patrick: For the first few months I found myself in disbelief that I was working for the Church. I’d felt a call to serve for a long time and, looking at my path, God’s hand had so clearly been leading me here. Still, I was surprised that the Lord chose me to serve. The other big surprise was how busy the Retreat Center is. 330 days last year the Retreat Center hosted guests. I had never dreamed that this ministry touched that many people.

Q: What do you love most about coming to work every day?

I love serving Jesus and knowing that I am helping to bring others to Him. It’s amazing to see how He uses the Retreat Center to touch people’s lives. This year, I’ve seen people moved to tears by an encounter with the Lord, people healed, and I’ve seen [those who have] fallen away and non-Catholics give the Church a second look. This truly is a special place to work.

Q: What are some goals that you want to accomplish at the Retreat Center in this coming year? Are there any exciting updates that guests can look forward to?

This year, I hope to focus on increasing retreat attendance and maximizing the effect of the Retreat Center. We have some great speakers on the calendar that our guests are going to really enjoy.

Q: How has working for the Retreat Center and the Archdiocese impacted your faith life?

Great question. I think I find myself challenged to grow a lot more, be it [by listening to] one of the awesome speakers or one of the many holy men, women, and religious that I get to work with. I am often reminded of how little I know and [that I am] called to deeper faith.

Q: As a young man, what advice would you give to other young people who are striving to live a life of faith in their workplace?

Be bold. Be courageous. Don’t ever feel like you have to hide that you are Catholic. Start small. Evangelization can be saying you went to Mass when you are sharing about your weekend. Be a leader. I had many graced conversations in my last job at a large secular company because everyone knew I was the token Catholic. Most people, in my experience, are curious and have questions. Also, even in Seattle odds are we are not as alone as we might feel. If you start making your faith known, others will be encouraged to do likewise. They will come to you or God will put them in your path. In that last job, once I knew who the Christians were I started inviting them to pray with me and started building community. Two Evangelicals and I started a bible study weekly at lunch, and I’d often invite the other Catholics, even those fallen away, to go to Mass with me. Be bold, be courageous, start small, and be a leader.

Q: Who is your favorite saint and why?

Venerable Fulton Sheen. Have you ever had someone, maybe a close friend or deceased relative, who you just know is praying for you? You can feel their prayers? That’s Fulton for me. I started asking for his intercession only a few years ago after stumbling onto some YouTube videos of his talks. He captured me with his knowledge. From that time on, I’ve felt a connection to him, and as I said before, I felt a deep inner knowledge that he prays for me. Anyone who has not heard of him, I recommend looking for him on YouTube. He is a great friend.

Q: Do you have any particular favorite spirituality? Prayers?

I can’t say that I have a favorite spirituality. They all have their merits. What I will say is that while I was at Franciscan University in Steubenville, I belonged to a fraternal household called the Disciples of the Word. We were a group of men on campus trying to live lives of holiness with a special devotion to Sacred Scripture. That experience instilled in me a deep love for the Bible, and I find that our Lord speaks to me most in His written word. My other special devotion is to the Blessed Sacrament. I have seen, countless times, the tangible influence prayer before the Eucharist had in my life.

Questions or comments? You may contact Patrick at patrick.sharkey@seattlearch.org.