By Natashya Fernandez
Hieu Nguyen CSsR and Son Nyugen CSsR from the Redemptorist Monastery have last month attained one of the great milestones of their spiritual journey as they were ordained to the Diaconate by Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton on Saturday 30 September at the Redemptorist Monastery in North Perth.
Hailing from Vietnam, the two men have reached this important step of their formation through years of prayer, discernment, and academic study. Their ordination brings them a step closer to their priestly ministry.
In his homily for the occasion, Bishop Sproxton told the two men that they are called to be in the ministry to serve and reiterated that ‘the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve’ (Mk 10:45a).
Acting Rector for the Redemptorist Monastery, Father Vincent Pham, said that the celebration was magnificent and meaningful.
“I am joyful for them and for the congregation because we have two more men who committed their lives to God and the congregation,” Fr Pham said.
“One of the most important things in the ceremony was the Litany and the laying on of hands. In the Litany we prayed with Saints for the candidates. It was a powerful and overwhelming moment in union between us and the Saints,” he said.
“Through the laying on of hands, we believe that the Holy Spirit came upon the candidates to help them to be able to serve God and his people,” Fr Pham continued.
“We also know that the vocation of a deacon is to serve. We are invited to continue praying for them so that they can be faithful to their vocation and be ready for the priesthood,” Fr Pham said.
Deacon Son Nyugen CSsR – Called to be an Ambassador of Christ
In an interview with The eRecord, Deacon Son recalled that it was at a very young age that he recognised the calling to become a priest. Not just any priest, but a missionary priest.
“For my parents, it didn’t matter what we were doing, they always found the time to take me and my siblings to Mass and be a part of any Church activity,” he said.
Deacon Son explained that while it was in secondary school that he confirmed his calling, it wasn’t until he was in second year of University that he truly recognised his call to the religious vocation.
“I often went to a Redemptorist Church in Saigon for Sunday Mass and was attracted by the Redemptorist charism, which is caring for the poor and the most abandoned.
“I also recognised that my character suited the Redemptorist mission. I admired what the Redemptorist brothers and priests were doing for the poor people in Vietnam especially. They stood side by side with the voiceless people against the Communist Government.
“After one and a half years of ‘Come and See’, I was accepted to join in the postulant group, living in a Redemptorist monastery and joining in their every activity, I felt very happy,” Deacon Son said.
He added that it was after taking his first vows as a Redemptorist in 2007, that he felt he was truly called into the Redemptorist Congregation to become ‘an ambassador of Christ’ – to bring the Good News to the poor and the most abandoned.
Continuing his religious studies from 2007 to 2010 in Saigon, Deacon Son also did pastoral work and taught catechism in rural areas and the highlands.
In April 2011, he came to Australia to continue in the formation program in the Province of Oceania.
Being a part of a close-knit family growing up, Deacon Son said that throughout his life’s journey, he realised that he had experienced the gift of faith in Jesus Christ, expressed in three ways – faith, family, and community.
“As the second youngest in my family of seven children, I learned a lot from my parents and siblings and inherited the faith from my parents and how to serve and put others first,” Deacon Son said.
Being ordained a deacon on 30 September at the Redemptorist Monastery in North Perth was a very special and emotional journey that reiterated his calling furthermore, he said.
“The Ordination Mass was very emotional and the Bishop’s homily related very much to me, which said – ‘the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve’, (Mk 10:45a). It was emotional because I chose this biblical verse for my journey of faith and my vocation as a Redemptorist.
“Secondly, my name is Son, and the words ‘Son of man’, certainly made me feel that it was talking about me.
“As a Deacon, Bishop Don invited me to look at Jesus Christ, as the perfect servant, a suffering servant on his earthly mission. I can say that the homily of the Bishop invaded my mind and heart and drew a clear picture for my future mission to follow in Jesus’ footsteps to serve and not to be served,” Deacon Son said.
Deacon Hieu Nguyen CSsR – Committed to the vows of poverty, obedience and chastity
Speaking about his vocation Deacon Hieu said that it is through his vows of poverty, chastity and obedience that he feels he has faithfully answered God’s call.
Born in Vietnam, Deacon Hieu was the middle child in the family of five and was baptised with the Christian name Joseph. Going through many hardships growing up, Deacon Hieu said his parents’ faith never wavered in bringing them up in the Catholic faith.
“Life was hard and my parents still gave me a chance to go to school. During my school days, I worked hard to find ways to help my parents and would constantly think about my life. I prayed the Rosary every day in Church and attended Mass on Sunday as it was the only Mass we had at that time.”
Praying fervently for God to look after his family, Deacon Hieu said he surrendered his life to God one evening during the Rosary.
“It was during the time of praying the Rosary that I heard God’s call me to in my hour of need and with the help of my local priests, I was guided into understanding religious life,” he said.
Deacon Hieu entered the Redemptorist Congregation in 1999 in Hanoi where he was a postulant for six years. Then he went to Saigon in 2005 and after his novitiate, was professed a Redemptorist on the 27 June 2007. In 2011, Deacon Hieu came to Australia to further his theological studies and graduated with a Master of Theological Studies from Yarra Theological Union (YTU) in Melbourne.
“After six years of studying and living in Australia, I realised that I have received many blessings from God as well as support from the confreres of the Province of Oceania, such as learning the English language, studying theology, cross-cultural living, community life and Redemptorist mission in a different environment. I have found peace and happiness in this Province.
“Throughout my journey in religious life, I commit myself to the three vows: poverty, obedience and chastity.
“I follow these vows joyfully because through them I feel I am able to express my response to God’s call.
“I like the life of the community because I believe that each person in the community is a gift sent from God to help and guide me in my spiritual journey.
“Being ordained a Deacon has been a momentous, happy time and my job has just begun. This will make me more available for the mission of our congregation by giving me more opportunities to serve God’s people, with the responsibility of preaching the Word of God, bringing the good news to the poor,” he added.