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Archives Father Conger starts new role in Vocations Office

May 11, 2022

By Darcy Fargo

OGDENSBURG – In addition to his role at Blessed Sacrament Church in Watertown, Bishop Terry R. LaValley has appointed Father Matthew S. Conger to a new diocesan role, associate director of Vocations.

Father Conger said he feels his role as a newly ordained, young priest gives him a unique ability to connect with individuals who may be discerning vocations. He joins Father Christopher C. Carrara, Vicar for Clergy and director of Vocations and Seminarians, and Sister Mary Eamon Lyng, a Sister of St. Joseph and diocesan Vocations coordinator, on the diocesan Vocations staff.

“I can relate well to the generation we usually think of as being at that point where they’re discerning where God is calling them and where they want to go in life,” said Father Conger. “Working in collaboration with Father Chris and Sister Eamon, I’ll be going to visit schools and college campuses, helping create vocations discernment groups around the diocese and working with those groups, and just being a presence for Vocations and answering questions. It’s all working toward continuing to create a culture of vocations.”

While the role is new and continues to evolve, Father Conger said establishing discernment groups is a key priority for him and the Vocations office.

“Talking with the seminarians so far, having discernment groups was very important to a lot of them,” Father Conger said. “When I was discerning, we had a great discernment group in Potsdam. It helps to have community and opportunities to pray, learn and discern.”

One of his key challenges in creating such groups will be identifying young men who are open to God’s call.

“To get the groups going, we have to find the guys,” he said. “Initially, it seems like it’ll be a lot of work getting the word out and getting to know people. Watertown has a young adult group. I plan to work with that group, collaborate with the youth ministers and go out to different parishes and talk to people. I also plan to be at Camp Guggenheim this summer, and that’s a good place to find people who may be interested.”

Father Conger, who started in his new role at the end of April, said he’s eager to see where the role takes him and how it develops.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “Like all things, it’ll have its challenges. But I think it’ll be very rewarding. One of my major messages is ‘just because you go to a discernment group or consider entering a seminary or convent, that doesn’t mean that’s what you’ll do. Discerning is all about becoming better Christians and growing in relationship with Christ.’”


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