Let’s celebrate! Hieu Nguyen, who we adopted as our seminarian and spent his parish internship and diaconate year with us, is now an ordained priest! We witnessed his journey to the priesthood when we listened to his homilies and saw him interact with and minister to parishioners.
Indeed, Fr. Hieu Nguyen is God’s wonder! His vocation story has impressed us: from being a Doctor of Physics, he is now a “Doctor of the Soul.” What a dramatic journey for him and a pleasant surprise for his family, friends, and all!
His amazing vocation story and those of his classmates reveal God’s hand working in the present. Yes, God is actively engaged in our lives. He would never stop calling people to serve him through the ministry of ordained priesthood or religious life and lay pastoral work.
The world needs artists, poets, teachers, and, yes, preaches, pastors, and priests, not just engineers, physicians, architects, accountants, politicians, economists, business people, and the like. We need men and women who can express through art, music, liturgy, and oral and written word the human heart’s longings and God’s designs for the world and humanity.
And so, how fittingly fabulous that on this Sunday’s Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity—a celebration of God’s mystery–we witness Fr. Hieu celebrate his First Mass in our parish! Praise God for all his wonders!
Last week, as I spent my annual retreat reading John O’Dononue’s book Eternal Echoes, Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong, I could not help but reflect on the challenges of our secular culture and seeing the critical work of revealing the Sacred in our midst. O’Donohue’s insights on the presence of God in the world and humanity are fascinatingly relevant to the challenges of our times. Here’s a compelling excerpt from his book:
We lament today the absence of God and the demise of the sacred. Yet it is we ourselves who have killed God. The world today is just as full of the sacred presence as it was centuries ago… Dostoyevsky said, “If God does not exist, everything is permitted.” All the horizons become flattened, and the wells dry up. We no longer walk the earth with wonder. We have purchased the fatal ticket. Instead of being guests of the earth, we are now crowded passengers on the runaway train of progress and productivity; the windows are darkened, and we can longer see out. The gadgets and games in each compartment are quite fascinating. There is constant theatre. Public relations experts offer sensational help in manicuring the image and searching out the best sound bite. Even if we wanted to alight, no one seems to be able to stop the train.
We desperately need to retrieve our capacity for reverence. Each day that is given to you is full of the shy graciousness of divine tenderness. It is lovely practice at night to spend a little while revisiting the invisible sanctuaries of your lived day. Each day is a secret story woven around the radiant of wonder. We let our days fall away like empty shells and miss all the treasure.
May we never despair as we continue to respond to God’s call to bring faith, hope, and love into the world through the ministries of the Church.
Congratulations and manifold blessings to Fr. Hieu Nguyen! Thank you to his parents for offering their son as a gift to the Church!
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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.
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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.