Life during the COVID-19 pandemic has changed in many ways, but we thank God for His abundant goodness and our being able to celebrate another August profession ceremony. On Aug. 1, five young men who are in formation for the priesthood professed the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Today, we highlight Huy “Joseph” Nguyen SVD.
Name: Huy (Joseph) Nguyen SVD
Hometown: Binh Thuan, Vietnam
Languages: Vietnamese and English
Ministry during novitiate: Minister of Care at St. Norbert in Northbrook, Ill.
How We Love: A Formation for the Celibate Life by John Mark Falkenhain
Tell me about a time when you felt God’s presence:
I grew up in a devout Catholic family and parish. My parents taught me how to pray when I was three or four years old. Since then, prayer has become a habit for me and part of my life. I truly feel God’s presence in my life. Surely, I feel God’s presence in the liturgy and prayer. Additionally, I always believe that God is helping me in whatever I do. Hence, whenever I am successful, I give thanks to God for his help and guidance. Whenever I face failures, I try to accept the reality and find out what God is saying to me or teaching me through this failure. I pray and offer to God almost everything I do, either big or small, simple or complicated. In other words, I try to do everything with God, and that’s how I feel God’s presence.
When did you first feel the call to be a missionary?
I joined a diocesan seminary in Vietnam before coming to the United States. When I moved to Olympia, Wash., with my family in 2014, my diocese in Vietnam asked Divine Word College at Epworth, Iowa, for a scholarship so that I could study for the diocese at the college. After four years of living with the Divine Word community there, I felt called to be a religious priest rather than a diocesan priest. I was amazed how wonderful the vows are for religious. I was touched whenever I witnessed people taking vows or renewing vows. I was inspired by the intercultural and missionary spirit of the Divine Word Missionaries. Therefore, I decided to join the Society of the Divine Word, and I am very happy to profess my first vows as a Divine Word Missionary.
How has living with the Divine Word brothers and priests at Techny inspired you?
Hearing the stories of the Divine Word Missionaries at Techny is a wonderful experience. Many of them spent 10, 20, 30 or even 60 years in foreign countries, serving the poor and outcast. It is really amazing to me! They also shared their experience of God and how significant prayer is for them. I have learned a lot from them. I hope I can be as faithful to God and His mission as they have been.
What was the biggest challenge during this past year?
I have been in priesthood formation for nine years already, including three years in Vietnam. Thus, I did not experience any major challenge. I have enjoyed the novitiate year very much. I have had more time to pray, meditate, read, write and experience religious life. The three goals of the novitiate year are to help us know more about God, about ourselves and about the Society of the Divine Word. Yes, I have achieved these three goals, and I am ready to move on.
How did the early experience of novitiate change after the COVID-19 pandemic began?
There are some changes due to the pandemic. One of the big changes is that we cannot go out for ministry and shopping anymore, which is surely inconvenient. Personally, these changes do not bother me that much. We are still able to keep the novitiate program running accordingly. Even though we cannot have a big celebration for our vows, our families are still able to join us through livestream. The good thing is that through livestream Mass, more people can join us, even my friends and relatives in Vietnam.
What are your hopes for the coming year?
I am looking forward to studying Theology next year. It is a great opportunity for me to understand more about God and the Church. I also get to learn more about Divine Word Missionaries at the Theologate. I hope with the continued education and formation, I will become a better missionary for the Church and for the Society of the Divine Word. I also hope that my relationship with God will be deepened more and more as I live out my vows. My mission is to help people experience God’s presence. To do that, I must experience God deeply in my heart for I can never give what I don’t have.