Five men professed perpetual vows at St. Anselm Church in Chicago, on Sept. 19. Their pasts are as varied as the people whom they have served and will serve in the future.
Edoh Adolphe Anato, 34, grew up in Lomé, the capital of Togo, West Africa. As a child, he attended Catholic primary school, but when his mother stopped going to Mass, so did he. He explored a few other religious groups before returning to the Catholic Church as a teenager. He earned undergraduate and a master’s degree in finance before joining the Society of the Divine Word in 2010.
In 2013, his superiors sent him to the United States for novitiate and studies. Adolphe fulfilled his Cross-Cultural Training Program (CTP) in Panama. After ordination to the priesthood in May, he will be assigned to the Amazon Region of Brazil.
Thirty-year-old Minh Anh Dinh planned to join his family business in Vietnam when he ventured to the United States to attend business school at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in 2008. After four years of studying business management, he yearned for more than money and business connections. The turning point came when he visited Thailand to witness the work of the Divine Word Missionaries. After completing his bachelor’s degree at UIC, he decided to join the SVD Associate Program.
For his CTP, Minh served as a missionary in Portugal. After ordination, he will be assigned to the Chicago Province.
Akizou Gerard Kamina, 32, first pondered the priesthood as an altar boy in his home country of Togo. Akizou, who holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and an associate’s degree in accounting and management, began the discernment process when he was in middle school, but his father was hesitant to give permission for his son to become a priest. After Akizou completed college, his father acquiesced.
Akizou completed his CTP in Brazil and will begin his assignment in the Chicago Province after ordination in May.
Born and raised in Saigon, Hai Ngoc Pham, 45, had achieved career success when he chose to answer God’s call. He first considered being a priest when he was chosen for the coveted position of altar server, but that thought went by the wayside as he grew up. After earning a bachelor’s degree in economics, Hai worked for the Southern Airport Corporation, a firm that supplies airports in Vietnam with goods and services. Eventually, he earned a master’s degree in finance and was promoted to the company’s deputy chief of finance.
Fifteen years into his career, he decided to study English in Ontario, Canada, which led to a reawakening of his vocation to the priesthood. Hai fulfilled his CTP in the (U.S.) Southern Province and will be assigned to the Southern Province next summer.
Fransiskus Santoso, 44, immigrated to the United States less than two months after 9/11. He arrived in New York City from Indonesia with $500 in his pocket. He found jobs in a flower shop, a dry-cleaning business and food service. He lived paycheck to paycheck. Hard work paid off. After seven years of working his way up the ranks, he landed coveted jobs at a Manhattan hotel and a famous banquet hall in New York City, but his soul wanted more. A convert to Catholicism at age 16, Fransiskus decided to give up his New York life and join the Society of the Divine Word.
He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Divine Word College in Epworth in 2014, fulfilled his CTP in Paraguay and will be assigned to the (U.S.) Western Province after ordination to the priesthood.
All five men will continue their final year of studies at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. They will be ordained as deacons at St. Joseph the Worker parish in Wheeling on Oct. 4. Due to COVID-19 restrictions attendance is limited and by invitation only. They are scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood in May 2021.
To view photos of the perpetual vows ceremony, please visit: https://bit.ly/33YWyfZ.