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placeholder October 21, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 18   •   Oakland, CA
Three to be ordained to transitional diaconate

Three seminarians from the Diocese of Oakland will be ordained to the transitional diaconate at 10 a.m. Nov. 9 at St. Pius Church in Redwood City. The three are Alberto Perez Aguayo, Joseph Tuan A. Le and Michael Nghia Pham.

In addition to continuing their studies over the next six months, each will be assigned to a parish. This brings them one step closer to ordination to the priesthood, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 23 at the Cathedral of Christ the Light.

In their own words . . .

Albert Perez Aguayo

I've been taught in the seminary that a priest is someone who becomes another Jesus. Therefore, a candidate to the priesthood must be shaped in many aspects of his life. His spiritual and human life should reflect kindness and devotion toward the Eucharist and the people in need. Thus, a candidate must have a personal relationship with Jesus.

I believe my seminary formation has been shaping me in this way in order to be a good seminarian. The seminary has helped my faith get stronger as I learned more about God and about his Church; and because of this it has encouraged and motivated me to be in the seminary and somehow feel ready to continue, God's will, in the ministry.

I personally thank God for giving me this opportunity to be a seminarian; it has been an amazing experience because of the spiritual and human growth I've been through. During my years of formation I have also realized that priesthood will not be an easy thing. However, if God is calling me, I believe he will also help me to move on.

I was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Sept. 4, 1981. I am the second youngest of nine brothers and sisters in my family. The relationships within my family have been always good and gratifying.

During my childhood, one of the happiest moments was when I started to serve in my parish as an altar boy and being able to learn many things about the Church and its people. I grew up in Tlaquepaque, Mexico, until I turned 16, when I entered the seminary. I attended high school in the seminary and then started with a spiritual year course offered by the seminary with subjects such as history of the church, liturgy, faith education and physiology. In 2001, I started philosophy. After the second year of philosophy I left the seminary for a time.

I worked in the city of Guadalajara as a receptionist in a hotel. My job was to take reservations, check in and out hotel guests and give them tourist information. What I enjoyed most was that I got to know many people from different places.

My background has helped me in my decision concerning the priesthood. A few people have influenced my life. One of them was the associate pastor of my parish in Guadalajara when I was an altar boy. He encouraged me to go into the seminary and he supported me once I entered it. He impacted my life in many ways, especially when I saw his pastoral care toward his people in his parish. Another person who influenced my life was a spiritual director from the seminary. What inspired me about him was how he related with other seminarians and how he supported me with spiritual advice; and most especially the way he lived his priesthood.

Even more, my family has always supported me in my decision since I entered the seminary. They have always encouraged me to continue this style of life; considering also that I am living now in the Diocese of Oakland, which I am most grateful to be part of.

I know that I am a person who needs to respond every single day to the call of God in order to prepare myself to the priesthood. It is a calling that I feel and know that is from God. Prayer and Eucharistic have been important in my life. I think that these two are vital and essential for each one of us as Catholics. Finally, a priest is a person from God who guides people in one of their most important parts of their life -- a priest is someone who helps the people in their spiritual journey to God.

My favorite saint is John Bosco because he was someone who trusted and had confidence in God even in times of difficulties. He knew that God is always taking care of us, but we must trust in Him as their sons and daughters.

Joseph Tuan A. Le

I was born on Nov. 5, 1974, in Qui Nhon, Vietnam. I grew up in Camranh, Nhatrang. I came from a big family with 10 members: my parents, my eldest sister, three older brothers, me and three younger brothers. I am the fifth.

After high school and during my college studies, I was one of many vocation candidates of my home diocese. Unfortunately, after finishing college, I did not have a chance to enter the Nhatrang's Sea Star Seminary in my diocese because of a strict policy of the local government. I had to wait for three years during which I did some teaching to support myself.

Knowing that the local government would not change its policy, my auxiliary, Bishop Peter, encouraged us to be a missionary. I took a risk to be a missionary in the Philippines, in the Order of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, studying and serving people there for eight years. However, it was not my calling to live a life as a religious priest serving God's people in the mission fields. Rather, I felt that I was closer to a life as a diocesan priest serving God's people in the parish. Thus, with much help from my good formators and spiritual director, I was finally able to discern peacefully my life's vocation before taking perpetual vows.

With God's grace and His unending love, I was welcomed to the United States on Aug. 1, 2010. Then, I had an interview with Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone and was accepted by him into the Diocese of Oakland. Thanks be to God for the Spirit of the Sacred Heart. Thanks be to God for many prayers and great help from Fathers Lawrence D'Anjou, Peter Ngo and Kenneth Nobrega; Sister Rosaline Lieu; and many others. Thanks to my supervisors and many good people during my pastoral year and during my field education training; thanks to my spiritual directors; thanks to all the faculty staff members and all seminarians at St. Patrick's Seminary; and a special thanks to the new Bishop of Oakland, Bishop Barber.

For God's greater glory, I wish that each day of my life I will not forget the Spirit of the Sacred Heart, who has taught me to be humble, merciful and loving for all His people. As a future ordained priest I am interested in bringing people to God like they are my own family. I am also interested in preparation for young couples before blessing them with the Sacrament of Marriage. And at the end of the day, I truly desire to be a good and holy priest for my Lord Jesus Christ.

Michael Nghia Pham

God calls each of us in different ways. His call to us might be through our parents, through our friends or maybe through a special event. In my case He called me through my friend.

When I was a high school student in Vietnam I used to go to daily Mass in early morning. At the time I wasn't thinking about becoming a priest. I just went to Mass as many parishioners did, and didn't question why. One day as I was leaving the church after Mass a friend of mine called me and said, "Hey, Nghia, do you want to become a priest?" He asked me because he saw me going to Mass every day. At first I said no; however the idea of becoming a priest entered into my mind. It was like a seed of desire to seek God had begun to grow in my heart. A few weeks later I said to myself that I should try, and I did. I believe that God called me through my friend, so I hope that one day you will recognize the way that God calls you. It might be one of the people who are around you, or from a special situation.

Following the call of God is not always easy so I joined a group of men who were discerning the priesthood. In 1993, I applied to St. Joseph Seminary in Saigon, Vietnam. In Vietnam, the Communist government controls all religions and the number of priests as well. At the time they only allowed 20 candidates to study for the priesthood every two years. Because of this I had to wait for my turn, which was going to be about 10 years.

During the waiting time many times I felt frustrated and wanted to give up my vocation. I felt no hope in the possibility of becoming a priest and there were many temptations around me. I had a good job and fell in love with a beautiful girl. But somehow God kept me on track to follow his call. He gave me a chance to come to the United States so that I could continue my vocation to the priesthood.

Every place has its own difficult situations. I came here with some difficulties and obstacles such as language and culture. However, I have received a lot support and encouragement from my family, from my friends and from people in my parish. I do believe that God is always with me. He encourages me through people who are around me and helps me to overcome the difficult times.

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