Hello to you all!
I hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July holiday. It is always such a great opportunity to spend time with family and friends.
As I do every summer, I have asked two of our newly ordained priests to share their experiences with you.
This week we have a post by Father Huy Nguyen who came to Boston from Vietnam as a young boy and found his calling early on. Since his ordination Father Nguyen is serving at Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Holy Family and St. Peter Parishes in Dorchester.
Next week, we will hear from Father Frank Campo who serves at St. Mary Parish in Franklin. Father Campo’s journey to the priesthood began with his wife’s death nearly 20 years ago.
Let us pray for these men, all our newly ordained and all priests, particularly as we begin this Year for Priests. May God inspire more men to listen to the call of the Lord and, perhaps more importantly, have the courage to follow it.
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“How can I repay the Lord for his goodness to me? The cup of salvation I will raise; I will call on the Lord’s name” (Psalm 116: 11-12).
“Father, can you please pray for my family?”
“Father, can you please offer a Mass for my parents?”
“Father, can you please hear my confession?”
Hearing these questions from the faithful Catholic Christians in just little over a month of being a priest is a great joy to me.
When I was studying to become a priest in the past six years, I was trained in celebrating these sacred sacraments piously. I was taught by many great priests and professors how to celebrate and explain these sacred sacraments to the faithful Christians in both theological and philosophical ways. I always thought that God was going to use me as an instrument to expedite His grace and blessing to His flock. However, I never imagined I would be on the other end as the priest celebrating the sacred sacraments. Being a recipient of God’s love and grace when I am celebrating the Holy Mass, hearing confessions, anointing the sick, and performing other sacred sacraments opened my eyes to my faith.
When I was a small boy, I immigrated to America with my whole family. With God’s grace, we settled in Massachusetts and lived right in front of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Dorchester.
With the Cardinal and my parents
At age ten, I became an altar boy, serving daily Mass at St. Peter Church in Dorchester. Being close to the Eucharist when I was serving Mass and experiencing the feeling of being an immigrant, God truly showed and shaped my faith and life into a way that I could not think of or predict. It took many prayers and quiet times to realize what God wanted me to do in my life.
With family and friends after my ordination
I started to discern to become a priest when I was in high school. During these times, I was afraid and nervous. I wanted to become a priest, but the thought of becoming a priest and the big commitment made me feel unsure and not worthy. How could a little man like me, literally, with many weaknesses become a Priest of Jesus Christ forever? How could a poor sinner like me have the privilege to touch the Lord’s True Body and Blood?
The First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians declares: “God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God.” Reading many Sacred Scriptures passages like this gave me comfort and hope to join the priesthood. Moreover, talking to priests, hanging out with good and devout friends, and increasing my daily prayers had strongly and deeply nourished my vocation to priesthood.
My six years studying to become a priest at St. John’s Seminary was truly one of the greatest blessings from God I received. I had the chance to pray more, to study the teaching of the Catholic Church, and make many good friends sharing a common goal with me. I also had the opportunity to witness and greet many faithful Catholic Christians during my pastoral assignment. The elderly, the young, the homebound, the sick, and others showed me that God’s love for his people is boundless.
With all the studying, training, and preparations for my priesthood, I still cannot describe how powerful and overwhelming God’s grace and blessing are. When Cardinal Seán O’Malley, laid his hands on me on May 23, 2009, my life ontologically changed.
I have the faculty to celebrate Mass. I can hear confessions and celebrate other sacred sacraments. Seeing many faithful parishioners going to Mass daily and endlessly reaching out to help the Church makes me strive to become a more holy priest. Hearing Catholic Christians confessing their sins with true sorrow makes me realize that my own call to holiness is still a long way to perfection. More amazingly, assigned by the Cardinal to come back home to serve two of the three parishes where I first grew up over 20 years ago really strikes my heart and is a dream come true.
Celebrating my first Mass
“How can I repay the Lord for his goodness to me?”
If God has overwhelmingly shown His grace, goodness, and love for me right now and in the past month of my priesthood, I certainly cannot imagine what He will have for me if I stay faithful, raise the cup of Salvation, and call on the Lord’s name in all the days of my life.