Deacon Quan Minh Nguyen started discerning a vocation to the priesthood at the young age of 8, when he started living in the rectory of his home parish in Quynh Luu on Vietnam’s North Central Coast.
He will become a priest on May 29, more than 20 years later. Deacon Nguyen along with Deacon Loi Dinh Pham will be ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz at the Cathedral of the Assumption, 433 S. Fifth St., at 11 a.m. The service will be live-streamed for the public to the Cathedral’s YouTube channel.
His parents, devout Catholics, took him to Mass every day and instilled in him strong faith and a love of serving others, said Deacon Nguyen.
He is the youngest of four children. His brother is an engineer and his two sisters are members of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; they minister in Vietnam.
When he was 4 or 5 years old, his parents decided they wanted him to become a priest, he said. When he was 8, his parents sent him to live with their pastor Father Anthony Bui Duc Duyet, who would guide him along the path to the priesthood. Deacon Nguyen lived with Father Duyet in the Diocese of Vinh, Vietnam, until he went off to college, he said.
“He was Eli and I was Samuel,” said Deacon Nguyen during a recent interview, referring to figures from the Old Testament. “He helped me to grow my vocation and figure out how to serve God and people,” said Deacon Nguyen.
Living with Father Duyet, Deacon Nguyen said he lived a religious life. His day began before dawn when he rose for Mass, climbed the bell tower, rang the church bells and prepared the altar for the 4 a.m. liturgy. He served his parish as a lector and attended daily adoration and evening prayer.
“It gave me joy. It was a natural feeling. I wanted to serve. I wanted to go to Mass. The desire (to become a priest) developed in my heart, soul and mind,” said Deacon Nguyen. Deacon Nguyen said he believes the disciplined faith life developed while living in the rectory with Father Duyet served to prepare him for life as a seminarian and now as a priest.
Now that he’s only days away from being ordained a priest, he’s experiencing a mixture of emotions, he said, including worry, because American culture is still new to him.
“I’m very excited to be a priest. I’m ready for my ordination. I feel a bit nervous and worried about my mission,” said Deacon Nguyen.
However, he also has a “sense of joy and peace,” he said. “I believe in the strength of the Holy Spirit helping me and the peace of God.”
Deacon Nguyen said he’s had the opportunity to meet some parishioners and Father Jeffrey Shooner, pastor of St. Patrick and St. Boniface churches, where he has been assigned as an associate pastor.
“They showed me hospitality and readiness to help me. So I feel very joyful and grateful to God and the people who will be with me,” he said.
Deacon Nguyen started his seminary formation at St. Francis Xavier University in Vinh, Vietnam, in 2013. Three years later he came to the U.S. to continue his formation for the priesthood. He graduated May 8 from St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Ind., with a master’s degree in theology.
Deacon Nguyen said he’s looking forward to the opportunities the priesthood will provide to celebrate the sacraments and serve God and his people.
“I feel excited to care for others, especially for the sick and vulnerable through the sacrament of the anointing of the sick,” said Deacon Nguyen. “I have the opportunity to serve the community through the sacraments. They are gifts from God and instruments from God to care for the people of the parish.”
Deacon Nguyen said he’s spending these last days before ordination preparing for his first Mass of Thanksgiving, which he will celebrate at 6 p.m. May 29 at St. Athanasius Church, 5915 Outer Loop.