On May 20, 2017, for the first time in the history of the Vice-Province, the Vietnamese
Redemptorists of Extra Patriam had the blessing of ordaining four deacons to the priesthood in one mass: Fr. John Sang Thanh Vu, Fr. Joseph Toan Quang Lai, Fr. Joseph Tu Thanh Dinh, and Fr. Paul Vu Tran Hoang Nguyen. If one is to include Deacon Tokha Thomas Hoang’s ordination in November 18, then this year our Vice-Province will have the blessing of five new priests being ordained in a single year! Because of these additions, we are very certain of the blessings that our Mother and Lord have bestowed upon us. We are therefore hopeful of the future, confident that the Lord is giving us what we need to respond to the needs of this changing world.
In addition to having four newly ordained priests, the event was special particularly
because of His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Tobin, C.Ss.R, who blessed us with his presence and ordained our priests. This was also special because it marked the first time that he ever ordained priests as a Cardinal. Despite being a person of high status, his humility and care for us makes him as lovable and approachable as a father, just as how a typical Redemptorist is known to be. One of the most notable examples of his fatherly personality was that, before his visit with us, he was willing to change his flight plans in a very timely fashion so that he could attend solemn vespers with us the evening before. He therefore arrived two hours earlier than he originally planned.
Solemn vespers began at 6pm, on the Friday before the ordination (May 19th). The
Cardinal wore a cope, processed to the altar and stood at the chair of the presider. The majority part of the vespers was sung in English, with the Magnificat being sung in Vietnamese, and with the intercessions prayed bilingually. Afterwards we had a formal dinner, where we expressed our gratitude to God through songs and through the sharing of our experiences in our ministries. There were two of the experiences shared that are worth mentioning. The first concerned the five of our brothers who spent their immersion year in Thailand; the second concerned the expression of gratitude from one of the then-to-be-ordained priests, Sang Vu.
The mass of ordination began at 10:00 AM the next morning. Because our four priests
have been well-loved by the people whom they served, there were many guests that day from many parts of the world: Vietnam, Czech Republic, and many States in the U.S. Because of this, there was no more room to stand in the shrine; there were people who stood outside under the summer heat. Once again, the approachability and humility of Cardinal Tobin was apparent in the way he addressed our newly ordained confreres. One of the most notable messages he gave to them was to always remember that the flock does not belong to them, to the bishop or even to the Pope. The flock that they will serve was, is, and always will be, the flock that belongs to Christ, and that they are called to feed His lambs, tend His sheep, and care for His flock.
At the end of the ceremony, the Vice-Provincial Superior, Fr. Dominic Long Nguyen,
announced where all the newly ordained priests were to be assigned. Fr. Sang Vu is now
assigned to Baldwin Park, California, USA; Fr. Toan Lai is in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Fr. Tu
Dinh is to return to Czech Republic; and Fr. Vu NguyenHoang is to be assigned in the island of St. Lucia, which is a part of the Caribbean Islands. This will be the first time one of our
confreres will be sent out to work in collaboration with other provinces—in this case, the
Once again, we give thanks to God for all the blessings he has bestowed on us as a Vice-
Province. As we continue to serve His people in the future, we are constantly open, not only to the needs of the displaced Vietnamese people whom we dedicate our ministry to, but to the needs of the entire world to whom our whole Congregation serves. Thus, in solidarity with the poor and with all Redemptorists, we give thanks to God, and respond to the grace by following the example of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, who is always available to those in need.
By Deacon Tokha Thomas Hoang, C.Ss.R