What one East Valley boy once filled in the blank with for what he wanted to be when he grew up is now a reality. That’s not to say his path to priesthood was direct.
Fr. Vinhson Nguyen once said he wanted to be a priest much like other kids dreamed of becoming astronauts and firefighters. Daily life put those thoughts on the back burner. Still, his dad, older brother and older sister — his mom passed away when the future priest was 3 — helped him keep Christ at the center of his life including faith formation and youth ministry at St. Anne Parish in Gilbert.
EL ESPAÑOL: Saluda al P. Vinhson Nguyen — Oración, fraternidad espiritual allana el camino al sacerdocio
It was sometime during college that Fr. Nguyen said he began taking everything more seriously, including his faith. The one-time University of Arizona and Arizona State University student ultimately found himself taking advantage of daily Adoration and Mass. Time at St. Mary’s in Chandler when Fr. Rob Clements was there helped him realize what it means to love the Mass.
“Because of that, my relationship with Christ grew. Come to find out Christ had a plan for me,” Fr. Nguyen told The Catholic Sun about four hours after configuring himself to Christ the high priest during his Ordination Mass. “He has a plan for all of us. And once I found out, I started moving in that direction.”
Fr. Nguyen also credited the brotherhood among seminarians with nourishing his vocation. Those relationships not only reflected hope for the future of the Church, but encouraged him to be a better person, priest and brother.
For Fr. Nguyen, that brotherhood is a bit more universal. The incoming parochial vicar at St. Daniel the Prophet in Scottsdale studied at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Ohio then four years at the Pontifical North American College in Rome where he was in a class of seminarians from roughly two dozen other (arch)dioceses. He even attended the Ordination of a Scottish classmate in Rome.
He brought finger rosaries blessed by Pope Francis back to the Diocese of Phoenix and offered them to those who received a first blessing, including a large classroom full of boys and young men of all ages during a special post-Ordination vocations lunch.
The newly-vested priest was eager to celebrate Mass and hear Confession because that sacrament was helpful in his discernment. Several saints helped along the way too.
“St. Joseph has been my number one for awhile,” Fr. Nguyen said, particularly through seminary. “St. Joseph has always been a very good example of what it means to be a spiritual father.”
His sister passed down a love of St. Philomena, a third-century saint whom St. John Vianney, patron saint of priests, prayed too as well.