By Kiply Lukan Yaworski
The Prairie Messenger
Hoang Nguyen, 41, and Gregory Roth, 26, lie prostrate on the floor in front of the altar while the assembly pray for the intercession of the saints and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Kiply Lukan Yaworski / CCN.
Bishop Donald Bolen ordained two men as priests for the Diocese of Saskatoon June 22 in a celebration at the Cathedral of the Holy Family.
The assembly responded "thanks be to God" and broke into applause as Bishop Bolen presented Hoang Nguyen, 41, and Gregory Roth, 26, who are the first priests to be ordained in the new cathedral.
Bishop Bryan Bayda of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon, Abbot Peter Novecosky, OSB, of St. Peter's Abbey in Muenster, and some 70 priests joined Bishop Bolen in blessing Father Nguyen and Father Roth in the presence of family, friends, diocesan representatives and visitors from around the world.
"This is a day when we are super abounding with joy," Bishop Bolen said at the start of the liturgy that included proclamations in French and Vietnamese, with music ministry led by a diocesan choir.
Diocesan vocation director Father Gerard Cooper presented the men for ordination, calling forth seminary representatives to speak about each of the candidates.
Father Sylvain Casavant of St. Joseph Seminary read testimony about Father Nguyen prepared by seminary rector Father Stephen Hero.
"If you ask Deacon Hoang how he came to have a sense of his call, he would point to the gift of faith that was nurtured by his parents and family in Viet Nam. He would recall as well the witness of his parish priest," said Father Casavant. "Hoang learned from faithful servants of Christ the importance of spending time dedicating your life to others, losing yourself to find yourself."
Unable to enter the seminary in Viet Nam for political reasons, Father Nguyen left his homeland for the unknown territory of Western Canada, following the "still, small voice in his heart" to become a seminarian for the Diocese of Saskatoon in 2007.
Father Peter Amszej of St. Peter's Seminary in London, Ont. provided testimony about Father Roth, describing his dedication to his spiritual life, to prayer, and to his relationship with Jesus Christ, as well as to his studies. Father Amszej emphasized Father Roth's joyful spirit of service and outreach, characterized by "friendliness, optimism, generosity, persistence and good humour."
"We know that Greg will not hesitate to be 'out there' wherever 'there' is, in need of the Gospel and the love of God," said Father Amszej, relating Father Roth's participation in projects and productions during his time at the seminary.
In his homily, Bishop Bolen cited reflections written by Father Nguyen and Father Roth about ordination to the priesthood.
"They both wrote about a sense of call and a sense of being unworthy of that call. They have both written eloquently about saying yes to that call and their desire to try to do so with their whole lives," said the bishop.
Today's culture tends to doubt the language of call, observed Bishop Bolen. "And yet, we are here. And you are here: ready to prostrate yourselves on the floor and implore the saints to give you the grace to carry out the ministry that has been asked of you, ready to live in obedience to the Gospel and your calling."
The rite of ordination continued with Father Roth and Father Nguyen declaring their intention to care for the Lord's flock, promising to serve faithfully and reverently, and pledging obedience to the bishop and his successors.
As a sign of surrender to God, the two young men lay prostrate on the floor in front of the altar while the assembly prayed for the intercession of the saints and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The bishop then conferred ordination by laying his hands on the head of Father Roth and Father Nguyen -- a gesture repeated by the many priests present at the celebration, as a sign of unity and shared spirit.
After a prayer of consecration by the bishop, Father Roth and Father Nguyen were vested with the stole (a sign of the priestly office) and the chasuble (the eucharistic vestment) with assistance from Father Pius Shroh and Father Phong Pham. Each newly ordained priest then knelt before the bishop, who anointed their hands with the Sacred Chrism.
A chalice and paten were presented by the bishop to each of the newly-ordained priests, with the words: "Know what you are doing and imitate the mystery you celebrate; model your life on the mystery of the Lord's cross." Father Nguyen and Father Roth then joined the bishop and priests at the altar to celebrate the eucharist.
Father Nguyen's first pastoral assignment is to serve as associate pastor at St. Paul's Co-Cathedral in Saskatoon, with pastor Father Pius Schroh. Father Roth's first pastoral assignment is to serve as associate pastor at St. Augustine Parish in Humboldt with pastor Father Ephraim Mensah.