On Saturday, January 6, 2024, at 10:00 A.M. Most. Rev. Bishop Italo Dell‘Oro, CRS., the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, presided over the diaconate ceremony for Br. John the Baptist-Gerard Hai H. Truong, C.Ss.R., from Vice-Province of Extra-Patriam at the Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Houston, TX.
Concelebrating with Auxiliary Bishop Italo were Rev. Kevin Zubel, C.Ss.R., Provincial Superior of Denver Province, Rev. Dominic Long Nguyen, C.Ss.R., Vice-Provincial Superior of Extra-Patriam, many Redemptorist priests and formators, priests inside and outside the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. There were also three permanent deacons from nearby Vietnamese Catholic parishes, and four transitional deacons of the Archdiocese, who are Br. Hai’s classmates at St. Mary’s Seminary.
Attending the Mass were also Br. Hai’s parents, siblings, and relatives, along with Redemptorist seminarians from San Antonio and St. Clement Theologates, Dominican sisters and brothers, and a large number of benefactors.
In his homily, Bishop Italo reminded the congregation about the role and duty of deacons. At some point, he addressed Br. Hai, saying “The nature of who you are (as a deacon) is to serve… to care for those who are in need, because you follow the One who came not to be served but to serve… There are lots of things for you to do in the world right now which is surrounded by darkness and violence… But do not be afraid of not knowing what to do or to say because Jesus is always with you… The only thing I want you to do is to keep looking at the Consecrated Host, keep looking at Jesus in the poor, which is to say, keep your prayer life active…”
After the conclusion rite, Rev. Dominic Long Nguyen, C.Ss.R., spoke words of thanksgiving to the presiding Bishop and special thanks to Br. Hai’s parents and family. A representative of benefactors then congratulated the newly ordained Deacon and the Vice-Province of Extra Patriam.
At the end of the Mass, following the group photo, Auxiliary Bishop Italo had a picture with Dn. Hai and his family, before everyone headed to the reception.
Vocation is a mystery and a divine gift
Recalling the days when I was in high school in Vietnam, my mom often asked me to join the “Come & See” section hosted by the Saigon diocesan seminary. Most of the eldest sons on my mom’s side joined either religious communities or diocesans. I am also the eldest and only son in my family. For such a reason, every time they saw me, many of my relatives, especially my grandparents, encouraged me to become a priest. Being a priest… It sounded interesting, but I thought I was not fit to be either a religious or a diocesan priest. Since they kept insisting, I once had to tell my mom, “Mom, I do not want to be a priest! Please! Never mention such things again!”
It has been 15 years now since I said that to my mom. I am now a transitional deacon, and by the will of God, I will soon become a Catholic priest. What a surprise! Looking back on those days, I cannot imagine how I could end up on this path. What God has done to me is so mysterious. He mysteriously guided and led me toward Him through the daily events of my life. Perhaps I would not be who I am today if my family and I were still in Vietnam. Perhaps I would not be who I am today if I had not joined the Vietnamese Youth Eucharistic Society, from which I came to know the Redemptorists of Extra-Patriam. Perhaps I would not be who I am today if I had not switched my career from computer science to nursing – the environment in which I truly felt God’s calling for the first time when I was providing hospice care for patients. God thus pulls me toward Him and allows me to see the fragility of life and the vanity of this earthly world. For the first time, I wholeheartedly wished to be a good man, to be a holy person. For the first time, I truly wanted to discover God and His love. And so, after two weeks of being with the Redemptorists of Extra-Patriam, I suddenly told my parents that I would like to join them. What a shock! What is a surprise for my parents? What’s a surprise to me? What has changed my mind? I do not know. But I do know that God has all the answers. He has a mission for me to do, not merely to provide physical care to patients as a nurse but as a Redemptorist spiritual nurse assisting the Doctor Jesus for the salvation of people’s souls. Today, my vocation is still a mystery and a tremendous gift. It is a mystery, so I must cling forever to God as He walks me on this unfolding path. A gift must be cherished and preserved.
Being such far on this mysterious path, I surely cannot walk alone. God sent and is sending so many people to help me, to pray for me, and to guide me on this Redemptorist way of life. The farther I go, the more people will get involved in God’s mysterious plan. I THANK YOU ALL, especially my family and my Redemptorist confreres, for your sacrifice, companionship, and prayers. May our Redeemer and our Mother of Perpetual Help bless you all with good health and holiness.
(submitted by – Tom Ho Nguyen)