Come and See Vocations MorningS
A group of young men met with local priests and seminarians at St Theresa’s Plimmerton for a vocations morning…
sharing food, sharing stories, sharing lives.
Wellington Seminarian Kinh Nguyen is 2023 Valedictorian at
Te Kupenga – Catholic Theological College
By Mark Bond, CTC Network, May 2023
Kinh Nguyen is Valedictorian in this year’s graduating class, and he attributes his success to God’s grace and the “hard work of so many people.” Indeed, both grace and people have abounded in Kinh’s journey, which has spanned over the last fourteen years.
The youngest of a “big Catholic family with seven siblings,” Kinh lived out his early years in the city of Vinh, Vietnam. After leaving high school in 2009, he spent two years working as a bricklayer before joining the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). From 2011 to 2015, he studied Sociology at a university in Saigon, and after “a long time of discernment,” he left the SVD novitiate community in 2016. He thought it was the end of his priestly vocational journey, but just two years later, God called him to New Zealand, and he became a diocesan seminarian for the Archdiocese of Wellington in 2019. “God’s work is always a surprise,” he said, reflecting on the challenges and blessings of his calling. “[Being far from home], I often felt homesick, especially during my first year. But I have also experienced many blessings, the biggest one [being] that I am a member of the Archdiocese of Wellington. Whenever I’m back in my diocese, I always feel loved by the people.”
Kinh is currently in his fifth year of formation at Holy Cross Seminary, and as such, he is in his “pastoral year,” a period in which a seminarian stays in a parish and immerses himself in the day-to-day life of its community. Kinh relayed that the experience has been “dynamic,” and that his CTC education has been a “big help” in his ministry. “Having a strong theological background is helpful when you’re asked to give a talk to children or adults, or when you’re asked questions about liturgy,” he said. Having had a taste of the administrative, liturgical, and pastoral demands of parish life, Kinh expressed gratitude for the joint support of Te Kupenga and Holy Cross Seminary, and encouraged other students to seek this support if and when they need it. “If you don’t understand something, just be brave and ask your lecturers for help, as I did frequently. Sometimes I was afraid to bother them too much, but out of my love for knowledge, I always overcame that fear. And whenever I did, I always received wonderful assistance from my lecturers. After a while, I realised that they like students coming to them for help!”
Kinh’s reflections come from a place of humility and thankfulness, and out of a desire to grow. His goal is to conform himself to Christ as he continues his pastoral placement, and as such, when I asked him which saint he would like to be trapped in an elevator with, he said he’d like to be stuck with the Blessed Mother. “I admire all the Saints, especially John the Baptist, my patron,” he said. “But I think Mother Mary knows Jesus better than anyone else, so having time with her would lead me closer to Jesus.”
VOCATIONS SUNDAY 2023
Vocations: grace and mission.
“Dear brothers and sisters, vocation is a gift and a task, a source of new life and true joy.”
Read the full message of Pope Francis for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations 2023here.
“Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach, but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess.
COME & SEE VOCATIONS MORNING (March 2023)
A group of young men recently spent a morning with Cardinal John Dew, Archbishop Paul Martin, and some priests and seminarians for a time of sharing about vocation to the priesthood. If you are thinking about the possibility of becoming a priest – if someone has encouraged you to consider priesthood, and the thought hasn’t left your mind – think about attending our next Come & See vocations morning (date to be advised). For more info about future vocational events, please contact Lucienne Hensel at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Facebook page.
When the Lord awakens a vocation, he thinks not only of what you already are,
but of what you will one day be, in his company and in that of others.”
Pope Francis, Christus Vivit 289
SEEK – EXPLORE & DISCERN (November 2022)
An afternoon on vocation and discernment
A number of young people gathered at St Mary of the Angels on Sunday 20th November, to learn about discernment and explore their place in the Church and in the world. The afternoon was followed by a Young Church Mass with Cardinal John. If you want to know more about future vocational events, please contact us!
COME & SEE VOCATIONS MORNING (September 2022)
Fr Ron Bennett and Seminarian Matthew White hosted a Come & See vocations morning at St Teresa’s Presbytery in Karori. Young guys gathered to speak about vocation over a hearty breakfast. Watch this space for more Come & See events. For more information contact Lucienne Hensel at email@example.com or visit our Facebook page.
“Today the Lord continues to call others to follow him. We should not wait to be perfect in order to respond with our generous “yes”, nor be fearful of our limitations and sins, but instead open our hearts to the voice of the Lord. To listen to that voice, to discern our personal mission in the Church and the world, and at last to live it in the today that God gives us.”
ORDINATION TO THE ORDER OF PRIESTS – Father Alfred Tong
Annette Scullion – WelCom October 2022
Congratulations to Fr Alfred Tong who was ordained to the priesthood at St Joseph’s Church, Upper Hutt on Saturday, 24 September. Cardinal John Dew presided over the Rite of Ordination and Mass.
Alfred’s family was among the hundreds of parishioners and friends gathered in support. Alfred’s parents Antony (Moon Chi Tong) and Willma (Wai Ming Chan), his sister Anita (Tong) and brother-in-law William (Lu) and nephews Jacob (Lu) and Ryan (Lu) all live in Upper Hutt or in Trentham/Heretaunga and are parishioners of St Joseph’s and Our Lady of the Valleys parishes.
Cardinal John said in his homily, ‘Alfred, never forget the words of today’s Psalm, The Lord is My Shepherd. “My head Thou dost with oil anoint, and my cup overflows.” Today your hands will be anointed for sacred ministry, live that anointing every day.’
Following the Prayer after Communion, Alfred spoke about his journey to the priesthood. Earlier in his life the multi-talented Alfred wanted to be a concert pianist, chess master and a famous scientist, but he struggled to find what he wanted to do with his life. After tertiary studies gaining several science qualifications, his quest led him to enter the seminary. There, he said, ‘Jesus gave me the nourishment I needed. I realised I too can share the joy of finding Jesus at the well, just like the Samaritan woman. I too can leave my water jar of wants at the well and be courageous enough to go out into the deep.’
Alfred thanked his family for their prayers and sacrifices to allow him to journey on his vocation; the parishes that have nourished him – Our Lady of the Valleys, Our Lady of the Bays, Catholic Parish of Otari, Holy Trinity Parish and St Joseph’s Upper Hutt; and St Pat’s Silverstream and St Joseph’s School Upper Hutt ‘for planting the seed about Jesus’.
Fr Alfred concluded with a dedication to ‘Mary our Mother’ as he beautifully sang Ka Waiata ki a Maria.
Supporting Cardinal John were Deacons Suu Nguyen and Joseph Long van Nguyen both recently ordained of Dunedin diocese, Fr Patrick Bridgman, parish priest of Te Awakairangi, archdiocesan priests; and seminarians for the archdiocese Matthew White, Kinh Nguyen, Emilio Capin and Gerson Badoyos as altar servers. Sacred Heart Cathedral music groups directed by Sr Marie Gore rsm led the music, with cantor Bernadette Takacs of Holy Trinity Parish, Wellington.
Fr Alfred has been appointed assistant priest at Te Awakairangi Parish of Lower Hutt City and suburbs. Read more of Alfred’s story here.
VOCATION SUNDAY 2022
From Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations:
“… God addresses a particular call to each of us. He touches our lives by his love and directs them to our ultimate goal, to a fulfilment that transcends the very threshold of death. That is how God wanted to see our lives and how he sees them still.
Michelangelo Buonarroti is said to have maintained that every block of stone contains a statue within it, and it is up to the sculptor to uncover it. If that is true of an artist, how much more is it true of God! In the young woman of Nazareth he saw the Mother of God. In Simon the fisherman he saw Peter, the rock on which he would build his Church. In the publican Levi he recognized the apostle and evangelist Matthew, and in Saul, a harsh persecutor of Christians, he saw Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles. God’s loving gaze always meets us, touches us, sets us free and transforms us, making us into new persons.
That is what happens in every vocation: we are met by the gaze of God, who calls us.
VOCATIONS BOOKLET FOR SCHOOLS AND PARISHES
Local priests and seminarians share their vocation stories in this illustrated booklet available for use in schools and parishes. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org