Each year, Good Shepherd Sunday marks the beginning of National Vocations Awareness Week. To mark this, the two most recently ordained priests for the Diocese of Palmerston North share some reflections on their own vocation.
You can also find a range of stories published recently in WelCom here: https://www.wn.catholic.org.nz/adw_welcom/day-of-prayer-for-vocations/
Fr Trung is the Vocations Director for the Diocese of Palmerston North and in this reflection he speaks about his upbringing in Vietnam, his family and the support he and his siblings are grateful for in the content of their own vocations.
For most Vietnamese babies, when they get baptized, the parents choose a patron saint for them. It is not recorded in the civil documents, but it will be in the baptism record.
I was born and raised in a catholic family. I am one of seven children. Many of you would know that there are six boys and one girl in my family. Lien, my sister, has survived and now is a happy mum!
Our parents have chosen St Joseph as the patron saint for three of the boys and St Peter for the other three, and Lien is Mary. My parents told me that they prayed hard that there might be one of us who would become a priest in the future, especially from those who they chose St Peter as their patron saint.
Well, God must have been listening! Two “Josephs” and two “Peters” are following the vocation to the priesthood. I got ordained as a priest on 6 June 2020. On 27 May 2023, my younger brother, who belongs to The Missionaries of St. Charles – Scalabrinians, will be ordained as a priest in Atlanta, US. On 10 June 2023, my older brother will be ordained as a transitional deacon for the Archdiocese of Washington DC, and my youngest brother has made his First Profession and is studying in Rome with the Institute of Charity (The Rosminians).
When I talk to my brothers, they always tell me that we cannot follow this journey without the grace of God, and without the prayers of so many people, and especially their help and support. We are always grateful for that.
I ask you humbly to pray for me and all the priests that we may serve God and you, His people, ever more faithfully.
To young people, DO NOT BE AFRAID to follow the vocation to the priesthood or Religious Life. As human beings, we are all limited, fragile, and we do not feel worthy of this vocation. But are you willing? By the grace of God, you can become his instrument to spread the good news, bringing God’s love to His people through the sacraments, through the consecrated life and through joyful ministry along the hikoi of life.
Fr Vui is currently based in the Catholic Parish of New Plymouth and was ordained in 2019. Recently Fr Vui released a book about the first few years of Priesthood. His reflections on why he wrote the book are below.
Like marriages, the first five years of the priesthood are often the most challenging. There are many books about the first five years of marriage, but not many about the priesthood. So I wrote this book, Priest A Man of Prayer, as I needed to read it.
I have prayed and tried to grow in my relationship with God for years. There were good, bad, and ugly days on this spiritual journey. Sometimes I felt I was in good shape with God. Other times, I thought I was far away from Him.
After my Ordination in 2019, I was so happy to be a priest. Yet soon after, I realised things, especially prayers, do not get easier. I started to accept that prayer life is a relationship with God. This relationship is organic. Like a garden, it needs to be watered and looked after regularly.
Everyone knows that truth, but it is always hard to keep going. Whether you are a saint or a sinner, the question is the same: how do we keep going in our union with God? This book lists spiritual principles and practices that have helped and guided me in the new priestly journey. I wrote it primarily for me, other young priests and senior seminarians soon to be ordained. But I think the principles apply almost to everyone trying to grow holiness and live a spiritual union with God. Many ideas I stole from others, and I hope you’ll find something worth stealing too.