Archbishop and priests candidly share their journey to about 20 young men
By Nathan Rumohr
The B.C. Catholic
With a relic of St. John Vianney present, Father Joseph Nguyen, vocations director of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, shared the beauty of the priesthood with guests in his new home, Vianney House, April 29.
Father Nguyen opened the home, named after the patron saint of priests, to help men to discern God's calling in their lives. It is to be blessed June 27. Look for more information in the June 4 issue.
Some 20 young men from around the archdiocese joined Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, Father Nguyen, Msgr. Stephen Jensen, Father Edwin Kulling, and Father Anthony Ho for a night of prayer, food, and discussion about the clergy on Good Shepherd Sunday.
"May God see something in you for the priesthood," Father Nguyen said at the beginning of the event. The gathering opened with the Liturgy of the Hours, led by Father Nguyen. It was followed by the movie Fishers of Men that highlighted priestly work. The four priests and the archbishop also shared their journeys.
"I needed all the graces to be here tonight," confessed Father Kulling, who started his Christian journey as a Lutheran.
Like many Protestant converts, Father Kulling attended many denominations looking to fill a spiritual void. After studying philosophy at the University of Victoria, Father Kulling went to Regent College at UBC and graduated unsure of what to do with his life.
He worked as a night school instructor, in retail, and taught ESL while being slowly pulled home towards the Catholic Church. "I eventually ran out of Protestant denominations," he joked.
He only had two Christian choices left: Catholic and Orthodox. Feeling the Catholic Church was closer to his roots, Father Kulling attended his first Mass in Dec. 2003 at St. Bernadette's Church.
"I was happily surprised that nothing offended me. At the end of my first Mass I knew I was going to be Catholic."
Almost immediately after completing the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults and being confirmed, Father Kulling felt called to the seminary, and entered in 2006, only two years after becoming a Catholic. He was ordained a priest May 22, 2010.
Father Ho also shared his calling to the priesthood, which didn't come early in life. He confessed that he was a troublemaker as a youth. "I asked my parents, "Why did you baptize me? I never wanted to be."
But soon his aptitude for trouble turned into a hunger for truth. He began to volunteer in different faith groups in his native Hong Kong. After moving to Canada, Father Ho entered the seminary and became a priest in 2006.
The attendees asked the priests and the archbishop about the steps to becoming a priest once in seminary. Archbishop Miller said it depends on previous education. Normally four years of philosophy and four years of theology are required.
"It seems like a long time, but it flies by," Msgr. Jensen said. He noted the journey is challenging, and discerning the priesthood must be done one step at a time.
Archbishop Miller said these challenges are met with quietness, peace, and attentiveness to the calls of the soul. He also said discerning priests should heed the words of Blessed John Paul II: "Do not be afraid." He added, "Christians should be assured that the Lord will not take us into a situation we can't handle."
At the end of the event Father Nguyen gave the attendees an envelope containing vocations literature and encouraged them to pray about their calling.