Soc Trang in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta
Home parish in U.S.
Immaculate Conception, Everett
St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Federal Way
Mount Angel, St. Benedict, Oregon
previously at St. John’s, Camarillo, California
Bachelor’s in philosophy; master’s in theology; master’s in divinity
St. Thomas More, Lynnwood
St. Anthony, Renton
Born to Than Nguyen and Chinh Cong Nguyen, who just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in July 2010.
He has eleven siblings, four of whom are now deceased.
In June 2010, his sister and brother and their spouses and children (8 people) reunited with his family in Everett.
Traveling, jogging, biking and gardening
Vietnamese and English
Relatives in religious life
Late great-uncle was a bishop in North Vietnam; an older sister, Sister Theresa MyDung Nguyen, ministers in Vietnam as a member of the Light of the Gospel congregation.
Life in Vietnam
The second youngest of 11 children, Nguyen was four years old when the Communist takeover of Vietnam forced his family to abandon their Mekong Delta farm and flee to another part of the country. His father was imprisoned for seven years because of his work as a policeman for the American military during the war. It left his wife to raise their seven surviving children on her own until his release.
“The communists took everything away from us because they called us a betrayer for working with the U.S. government,” Nguyen said. Such status also prohibited the offspring from going on to college or to the seminary. “We had to start over our lives,” he said. “It was very tough for my mom to take care of seven of us by herself.”
But he said his parents’ strong faith got them through it. “I am strongly influenced by my parents’ deep spiritual life which helps me to mature my vocation and deepen my relationship to God.”
His family prays the rosary every night and goes to church every day, he said.
Nguyen said he hadn’t considered the priesthood until his pastor brought the subject up when he was in his late teens, apparently after being impressed by Nguyen’s volunteer work in the parish. He was a youth leader, a volunteer teacher at the parish school, and a member of a youth Legion of Mary group that helped the poor and dying.
Nguyen waited about a month before telling the pastor he would give it a try.
Then, for approximately four years, he became one of the diocese’s “underground” seminarians who trained in secret because of government control of seminary admissions. The men gathered monthly for their studies. “When we came to that place (for our studies) we had to make sure no one saw us entering that building,” he recalled.
In 1994, Nguyen, his parents and two siblings immigrated to the U.S. as political refugees and settled in Everett. Nguyen learned the English language at Everett Community College and graduated with an associate’s degree in computer science.
In the priesthood, he’s especially looking forward to celebrating the Eucharist and the other sacraments.
Excerpted from the Catholic Northwest Progress, May 25, 2006
Full article here