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placeholder March 21, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 6   •   Oakland, CA

March 22: Dinner, Christian Brothers, St. Mary’s College

March 23: (Evening) St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Awards and Reception, Cathedral

March 24: (Morning) Bishop’s Admini-strative Council, Chancery

(Evening) Remarks, California People of Faith Working Against the Death Penalty, San Jose

March 25: (Evening) Prayer and dialogue with priests, Moraga

March 26-28: Parish visitation, St. Elizabeth, Oakland

March 30: (Evening) Visit and dinner, Camoldolese Monks, Berkeley

March 31: (Morning) Bishop’s Admini-strative Council, Chancery

April 1: (Morning) Greeting, Youth/Religious Education Workshop, Chancery

(4 p.m.-5 p.m.) Interview, Catholic Answers Live, Immaculate Heart Radio, 1260AM

April 2: Diocesan Youth Rally, Bishop O’Dowd High School

(Evening) FACE dinner and auction, Danville

April 3-6: Board Meeting, International Theological Institute, Vienna

April 7: (Morning) Mass, De La Salle High School

April 8: (Afternoon) Diocesan Consulters, Chancery

April 10: 10 a.m. Stational Mass, Cathedral Reception, Young Ladies Institute

(Evening) Student Mass, St. Mary’s College

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New pastor in El Cerrito

Father Thuong Hoai Nguyen, who had been pastor at Our Lady of Good Counsel in San Leandro since 2001, became the 10th pastor at St. John the Baptist Parish in El Cerrito on March 5. He succeeds Father Michael Norkett, who had served as administrator since last year.

Father Thuong Hoai Nguyen

The new pastor brings a cheerful heart and faith-filled attitude to his new assignment. “After almost 55 years of life, with many ups and downs, I am still very happy to be a priest and a very happy priest. There is nothing that can take me apart from our Lord Jesus who loves me and chose me to be his servant.”

Father Nguyen was born in Bien Hoa, a town near Saigon in Vietnam. He was the middle child of nine offspring. His call to religious life began at a young age. He was an altar boy in the village church, which he described as a small church and the only church in the small farming village. “I was very proud to be one of the few boys chosen.”

As an altar boy the young Nguyen relished every opportunity to attend daily Mass with his family. “We walked over a mile to the church from our home and my mom always held my hand in hers.”

He also drew inspiration from his pastor, an inspirational man he called a saint. After four years as an altar boy and assisting his pastor, he was drawn even more to consider religious life. He entered the minor seminary shortly after the fifth grade and later continued his vocation education at the Seminary of the Long Xuyen Diocese.

The fall of Vietnam in 1975 threatened to end his journey to the priesthood. As a result of this political turmoil, all of the seminaries were closed and taken over by the Communist government. “All seminarians had to return home to avoid persecution and execution,” Nguyen said. He returned to his home village where he served as an “interim principal” at the local parish school and did farm work. However, with the help of the village pastor and local parishioners he was able to continue his seminary education by attending the “hidden underground night classes.”

As time went on, religious life was becoming more difficult, especially for seminarians. “The chance to become a priest seemed impossible,” he recalled. With the help of a friend, Nguyen left Vietnam in May 1981 and arrived in California that December.

After completing eight months of English language studies, the seminarian was finally able to continue his studies to the priesthood. After graduating from St. Joseph College in Mountain View and St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, he was ordained to the priesthood on May 24, 1991 by Bishop John Cummins.

Father Nguyen’s first assignment as a priest was at St. Joseph Parish in Pinole (1991-1993) as parochial vicar. Next he served as diocesan director of the Vietnamese Pastoral Center (1993-1995) before becoming a pastor at St. Anthony Parish in Oakland (1995-2001). He was assigned as pastor at Our Lady of Good Counsel in 2001, a post he held before his new term at St. John in El Cerrito.

Prior to moving to El Cerrito, Father Nguyen had visited his new parish and received a “very warm welcome” from the parishioners that he met. He is looking forward to learning more about his congregation and in collaborating with them to address any concerns and challenges that lie ahead.

The new pastor expressed his thanks to Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone for the new assignment and vowed that he will continue to follow his vocational call “to love, to care for the people of God and to proclaim the Good News.”

—Carrie McClish, Staff writer

Easter Vigil

Father Paul Paul D. Minnihan, director of Diocesan Worship, informs that Easter Vigil is to begin no earlier than 8:15 p.m. Holy Saturday, April 23.

Mass celebrates baptized

Bishop Cordileone will be the principal celebrant at this first Neophyte Mass at 10 a.m. June 5. All those baptized at Easter and their godparents, as well as those previously baptized who completed the sacraments of initiation during the past year are all invited to join in celebrating the newly baptized at the Cathedral of Christ the Light.

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New auxiliary for San Jose

WASHINGTON — Father Thomas A. Daly, vocations director for the San Francisco Archdiocese and president of Marin Catholic High School, was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to be an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of San Jose. The appointment was announced March 16 by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

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Pope’s second ‘Jesus’ book

WASHINGTON — A panel of Protestant, Catholic and Jewish scholars and theologians found much to praise March 9 in what several called a “remarkable” new book, Pope Benedict XVI’s “Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week — From the Entrance Into Jerusalem to the Resurrection.” The panel — convened by teleconference — was unanimous in its assessment that second book in the pope’s “Jesus of Nazareth” series would benefit readers of every faith and at nearly every level of theological and scriptural understanding. “I would have no hesitation putting this book on the syllabus for my students, who are mostly Baptists,” said Craig A. Evans, a professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Benjamin Witherington III, a professor of New Testament for doctoral studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky., and a member of the doctoral faculty at St. Andrews University in Scotland, said the book “could not have happened before the Second Vatican Council” and would greatly contribute to Christian unity at the scholarly level. In the book, Pope Benedict presents the passion and resurrection of Christ as history-changing events that answer humanity’s unceasing need to be reconciled with God.

JPII stamp issued

A stamp showing Pope John Paul II, Jesus of Divine Mercy and St. Peter’s Basilica is being jointly issued by the Vatican and Poland to celebrate the May 1 beatification of the Polish pope. The stamp will be available April 12. Meanwhile, the Holy See Press Office said a new page dedicated to John Paul II for his beatification has been activated on Youtube at www.youtube.com/giovannipaoloii and includes video clips on the pontificate year by year, as well as video clips with the Pope’s voice in various languages and situations (on trips and in the Vatican). A new page was also been activated on Facebook at www.facebook.com/vatican.johnpaul2.

Pope: Charity is a sign

Charity draws people closer to God and is a sign of a desire for conversion, Pope Benedict XVI told members of a Belgian association, “Pro Petri Sede” (For the See of Peter).

Church remains gift of God

Even if the Church is beset by problems, it is still a gift of God, Pope Benedict XVI told several hundred pastors of Rome parishes. Too often, “perhaps because of a fear of triumphalism,” priests and other Catholics do not rejoice enough over the gift of being part of the Church, the pope said March 10 during his annual Lenten meeting with the Rome pastors.

—Catholic Voice news services

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