By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
Five seminarians who are in formation for the priesthood will be ordained deacons by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz on March 25.
The transitional diaconate ordination — which typically takes place a year prior to presbyteral ordination — will be held at St. Margaret Mary Church at 10 a.m.
The five ordinands are Robert Barnell, Brandon DeToma, David Farrell, Anthony Kien Trung Nguyen and Minh Dinh Vu.
They are among 18 men in various stages of formation for the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Louisville.
Father Michael Wimsatt, director of the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Vocation Office, said the five seminarians are “incredible guys” who have already made a positive impression on many parishioners during their summer parish assignments.
“They’re all good men and they are easy to admire for their commitment and their service,” he said.
Robert Barnell, 29, holds a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University. He currently attends Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio. Barnell is the son of Thom and Joan
Barnell, and his home parish is St. Margaret Mary.
Barnell said he feels called to the priesthood because of a desire to lead others to Christ.
“I believe that Jesus is the purpose of each of our lives and that he is ultimately the answer to all our longings and desires,” he said. “Giving ourselves over to him is what heals our lives and our communities, and it’s what can unite our whole world in peace.”
Barnell said he is looking forward to serving as a deacon in the archdiocese and getting to know the people at the parish where he will serve as a deacon.
“I am excited to let God do his work through us, whatever it might be. We are many parts of one body, each with different gifts and vocations, and it is beautiful how the Holy Spirit coordinates all of them to carry out God’s mission of bringing the world into communion with him,” he said.
Brandon DeToma, 35, has a bachelor’s degree from Transylvania University. He currently attends the Pontifical North American College in Rome. DeToma is the son of Michael and Geri DeToma, and his home parish is Epiphany Church.
DeToma said he never expected to enter the seminary but there was a feeling present in him, “like someone was always tugging at your sleeve.”
“God works in many ways, and it was through strong Catholic friendships that I was able to ‘let God in’ and, by doing so, I was able to start thinking about the possible vocational call,” he said.
DeToma said, that for him, the priesthood consists of three things: the people, prayer and sacraments.
“I am excited to be with the people of God, walk with them, help them in times of need and be a spiritual resource to them,” he said.
David Farrell, 28, whose home parish is St. John the Apostle Church in Brandenburg, Ky., attended Murray State University and is now in the third year of his theology studies at St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology. He is the son of Joseph and Patricia Farrell.
For Farrell, the call to the priesthood began in a single moment, but grew slowly. At the time, he was a college student and meeting regularly with the campus minister. After an initial “a-ha moment,” he began teaching religious education at a local parish, and said his vocation took off from there.
Farrell said he views a priest as an individual who “bridges people to God.”
“He does this by praying daily for the whole world, preaching the Gospel to those in need of Christ and offering a real encounter with God’s love and mercy through the sacraments,” he said.
Kien Nguyen, a native of the Diocese of Vinh, Vietnam, currently attends St. Meinrad. Nguyen, 35, is the son of Nguyen Trung Tin and Phan Thi Thi. He has a bachelor’s degree in the English language from Duy Tan University.
Nguyen said when he was 14 his parish priest visited his family and asked “Do you want to follow me?”
“That means ‘Do you want to become a priest?’ I just smiled and gave him no answers,” he said.
Nguyen said a week later at Mass, the priest asked again “Do you want to follow me?” This time Nguyen replied “Yes, I do.”
“I did not know why I said ‘yes’ to him. However, I felt happy to say yes and started my vocation journey,” he said.
While on his vocation journey, Nguyen said, he has experienced God’s “profound love and mercy for me.”
Nguyen said he has realized that serving all God’s people, especially the poor and the suffering, is the “real reason attracting me to the priesthood.”
Minh Vu, 33, is also from the Diocese of Vinh and currently attends St. Meinrad. He holds an anthropology degree from Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities. He is the son of Theresa Tuan thi Nguyen and the late Luis Gondaga H
anh Dinh Vu.
Growing up as the youngest of seven children, Vu said he always knew he wanted to become a priest. The seed was planted by his mother early on.
“People always looked at me and said, ‘He is going to be a priest.’ When I was little, that saying made me happy,” he said.
Vu said that by the time he was in high school, the expectation became “burdensome” and he had other desires, including becoming a politician.
But while he was in college, the thought of becoming a priest kept returning to the forefront, he said. After completing his degree, he applied to the seminary in Vietnam and later came to the U.S.
“There were a lot of challenges during my first three years in the U.S.,” he said. “However, God always has the best way to encourage me.”
Both Nguyen and Vu are seminarians for the Archdiocese of Louisville. Following their ordination to the diaconate, and later to the priesthood, the two will serve in the archdiocese for a few years before a decision will be made as to whether they will return to their homeland, according to the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Vocation Office.
The parish assignments of the soon-to-be ordained deacons have not yet been announced.