Deacon Joseph Nguyen’s vocation “came gradually”, he said, without an “aha moment”. But Saint John the Baptist has been a recurring figure since his fourth year of university seminary.

For a month during the January 2018 term, he stayed at St. John the Baptist in Savage, the parish closest to his home where, at the time, Father Donald DeGrood served as pastor. He is now bishop of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The experience of being in the parish for a long period of time with the example of then-Father DeGrood helped Deacon Nguyen discern his calling.

“I was able to understand the pastoral love and the love of the people in the parish, and see the example of Father DeGrood,” he said.

Deacon Nguyen is among five men who will be ordained priests for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis at St. Paul’s Cathedral in St. Paul at 10 a.m. May 28.

At Savage, he was also able to spend time in the parochial school classrooms “to learn how things work in a school,” he said. “Sometimes the teacher would ask me to introduce myself, maybe help with a spelling quiz… But just to be there with the kids and kind of live it to the fullest… that love of a priest being with his people” , said Deacon Nguyen, 26, a member of St. Anne-St. Joseph Hien in Minneapolis.

Being at St. John the Baptist strengthened his desire for the priesthood, Deacon Nguyen said, largely through the example of Father DeGrood. The seminarian observed the priest’s love for people and his prayerful and fraternal nature.

“He was very encouraging about the priesthood,” he said.

A year later, he spent January 2019 at St. John the Baptist in Excelsior, learning from Father Alex Carlson. Deacon Nguyen said living at the parish, “working with people, just loving them, being with them has been a really big help for me as well.”

Halfway through Deacon Nguyen’s stay there, Father Carlson went on leave and Deacon Nguyen was “the only guy with the necklace at that time.”

“Father showed me the ropes the first two weeks and now for the next two weeks I’m here to serve,” he said, which he found “enjoyable,” and reaffirming the calling.

Every day he woke up at 5 a.m. full of energy, Deacon Nguyen said. He drove to the parish, waited for mass and school to start, ‘to get things done in the office’ and stayed until about 10 p.m. – for two weeks straight .

“Usually it would stress out or exhaust the guys, but it gave me life,” he said. “I looked forward to it every day.”

Immersed in parish life during these two weeks, Deacon Nguyen said, “It was a great moment for me to…realize that this is probably what God is calling me to do.”

Deacon Nguyen brought continuity to those in the parish who had come to know him during his first two weeks. He helped the visiting priest, talked to people after mass, visited classes, helped with lunch, participated in parish meetings. “I loved every moment,” he said.

And last summer, after being ordained a deacon, Deacon Nguyen served at St. John the Baptist in New Brighton with Father Paul Shovelain.

Hue and Lang Nguyen’s son, Deacon Nguyen is also grateful for the experience of serving the past four years at his teaching parish, St. Vincent de Paul in Brooklyn Park, observing Father Dennis Zehren while preparing the men and women at the rite of Christian initiation. adults, by attending mass and, after his diaconal ordination last May, by preaching.

Key words: Joseph Nguyen

Category: Ordination


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