On June 1, Archbishop José H. Gomez will ordain 11 new priests for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

In the days leading up to their ordination, we’ll be introducing a new soon-to-be Father. Los Angeles, meet your new priests!

Age: 33

Hometown: Highland

Home parish: St. Joseph Church, Pomona

Parish assignment: St. John Vianney Church, Hacienda Heights

Having a brother with cerebral palsy can be a difficult challenge for anybody. Certainly for Joseph Cho, who didn’t always get a chance to go play sports or spend time at a friend’s house because his parents spent so much of their time taking care of his brother. For better or worse, life revolved around him.

“He was a big impact in my life,” Cho said. “I do love my brother but like all siblings, you tend to think negatively of your sibling because they’re taking something away from you. 

“The positive side is I got to learn maturity. Helping my parents take care of my brother, taking care of his needs, helping him get to bed. And humility.”

Joseph Cho holds his younger brother, John, in a childhood photo.

What it also did was to push him to church. His parents were devout Catholics, but when his brother got older, bigger, and they couldn’t take him to church, they would send Cho with a neighbor and their children who also attended St. Andrew Kim Korean Church in Riverside.

“At that time, I didn’t really see the value of going to church,” Cho said. “Then I remember my dad telling me one time that I’m a representative of our family going to church. If I go and pray, I’m praying for the whole family. So I really took that to heart.”

For Cho, this is where the seeds of his vocation were planted. Being from South Korea — his parents immigrated to the United States when he was 2 years old — his family found strong bonds in the Korean community at St. Andrew Kim. His uncle on his father’s side was a priest in South Korea, so the idea of Cho someday becoming one wasn’t so far-fetched. 

“Everyone knew who my family was and knew my uncle also,” Cho said. “Knowing you should carry on the family tradition, the family job per se, by becoming a priest.”

But having others wanting you to become a priest and you actually wanting it yourself are two different things.

Joseph Cho, right, stands with his uncle, Father Paul Cho, left, a priest in South Korea, and Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul.

Cho hadn’t fully felt the call and so went about his life. He went to college not really knowing what he wanted to do with his life, only hoping to have a career where he could make enough money to help his brother and parents, who had sacrificed so much.

After graduating from Chapman University with a degree in Business Administration, he began studying for his CPA exam. While studying, thoughts about becoming a priest suddenly resurfaced.

So he prayed. And prayed. Went to the Blessed Sacrament. And prayed.

It was while his mother was at a retreat that God acted in the form of the priest she met there.

“My Mom said, ‘You should call this priest’ and talk about vocations in general,” Cho said. “I did and the priest forwarded me to the vocations director of Los Angeles. So I met with them and started going through the process of discernment.

“Next thing I know they gave me a piece of paper. I didn’t really read it and I signed it. Next thing I know, I was entering the seminary. I think this was God’s way to give me the push I needed.”

Joseph Cho poses with Archbishop José H. Gomez.

He struggled a bit going from his business background to theology — and plenty of doubts about whether he should actually become a priest — but the experience during his internship at St. Philomena Church in Carson made things clear.

“They were always supporting me and showing me the ropes of how priest life was like,” Cho said. “At the end. I was saying, yeah, I could do this. And it finally became something I want to do.”

Preparing for his new life, Cho can’t help but look back on the community that helped nurture his faith, and how he can use that to forge his future role.

“If there’s no community, I don't think there will be a church or the church that we see right now,” Cho said. “Having the community really helps someone to find their faith. We’re all relational beings, so building that relationship and working together is one of the teachings that God is really giving us. It’s not my faith. It’s not just my faith to have. It’s a faith that we all could share.”