REGINA — It was a long journey that took several routes, but “God’s will” brought Thuy Nguyen to Regina where he was ordained priest Dec. 12, 2014, the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He strongly believes that God had a plan for him and despite different “challenges and difficulties” in his journey, it was all God’s will.
Nguyen was born and raised in Hanoi, capital of Vietnam. He was educated there and spent seven years in a monastery studying for the priesthood.
Until recently the Vietnam government controlled the number of seminarians, limiting them to 40 every second year and thus controlling the number of priests, according to an April article in the National Catholic Reporter.
It was during a 2011 Vietnam visit that Regina’s Archbishop Daniel Bohan met Nguyen and talked with his bishop.
“I was very impressed with how happy the people at the monastery were with Thuy,” said the archbishop prior to his homily.
Thuy was offered and accepted the opportunity to come to Regina, learn English, complete his education and become an ordained priest in the Regina archdiocese. It all came together in Holy Rosary Cathedral a year and a half after his arrival.
“I was very happy to celebrate this first mass with my archbishop,” said Nguyen in an interview with the PM. He is assigned to Our Lady of Peace Parish where he will assist Rev. Peter Thang Nguyen. (Nguyen is as common in Vietnam as Smith is in Canada. There are five priests in the Regina archdiocese with the name Nguyen, none are related.)
In his homily, Bohan traced the lineage of priests from God to Christ to the disciples who were charged to go out and bring the word to the world. “Through them and their successors, the bishops, he continues the work of teacher, priest and shepherd. Priests are co-workers of the order of bishops.”
Traditional gifts of flowers and fresh fruit accompanied the gifts of bread and wine brought to the altar by members of the Vietnamese community wearing traditional dress. Nguyen’s father Nguyen Van Thoa read the second reading in Vietnamese.
The cathedral was about two-thirds full, including a large contingent of Regina’s Vietnamese population.
Among the guests were Nguyen’s parents. “They don’t speak English,” said Nguyen, “so it was dangerous for them to come to this country, their first overseas trip.” Nguyen said his sister and other members of the family were refused visas.
For the first time in the Regina archdiocese the ceremony was live-streamed on the archdiocese website, where it is still available.