Father John Vianney first Beatitudes priest to be ordained in Denver

Rocio Madera

On Nov. 7, the Community of the Beatitudes made history by ordaining the first member from their community in Denver. Father John Vianney Thanh Viet Thai, originally from Vietnam, was ordained a priest by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Parish. 

Father Vianney is the first priest of the Community of Beatitudes to be ordained in Denver. Ordinations of their members usually take place France, where the community was founded in 1973, but due to the pandemic, Archbishop Aquila ordained Father Vianney is a very intimate celebration. 

Father Vianney was born on March 31, 1983, in Vinh Long, South of Vietnam. He was raised in a non-Catholic family, something that didn’t stop him from following God’s call. In 2000, when he was a high school senior, he moved to student housing at a Catholic parish, thanks to a family friend who was Catholic. There, he walked into a Catholic church and experienced the sacrifice of the Holy Mass for the very first time. He immediately fell in love with the beauty of the liturgy. During his time there, he also learned about the parish charity work that was often led by the pastor of the church and the nuns from the charity congregation. Amazed by all these acts of kindness and mercy, he soon felt the desire to consecrate his life to God and serve the less fortunate. A year later, he was baptized during Easter Vigil. 

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila ordained Father John Vianney Thanh Viet Thai Nov. 7 at St. Catherine of Siena parish. Father Vianney is the first member of the Community of Beatitudes to be ordained in Denver. (Photo provided)

In 2002, he joined the Community of the Beatitudes and lived in their New Zealand house from 2003 to 2005. Years later, he took some time to complete a degree in psychology.  

In 2011, Father Vianney took his first vows with the Community of the Beatitudes and started his religious life and priesthood formation. From 2015 to 2019, he moved to Blagnac, France and continued his formation at the Catholic Institute of Toulouse. On June 29, 2019, he was ordained a deacon and two months later was assigned to the house of the Community of the Beatitudes in Denver and practiced his diaconate at Saint Catherine of Siena Parish.  

“The active faith of the American youth amazed me when I first arrived in Denver,” Father Vianney said “That’s why I am so pleased and happy to be ordained here. My challenge is to give testimony to the young adults of Saint Catherine of Siena Parish where I serve.” 

Along his journey, Father Vianney had important religious figures who helped him form into the priest he has become, starting with our Blessed Mother.  

Father Vianney is embraced by his brother priest and fellow Community of the Beatitudes member Father Anthony Ariniello. (Photo provided)

“I have had a deep devotion to Mary through the rosary even before I was baptized…Also Saint Catherine Labouré and Saint Therese of Lisieux,” he said. “For my priesthood ministry in the future, I entrust myself especially to my patron saint, John-Mary Vianney and to Saint John Paul II.”  

As he begins his new journey, he looks forward to celebrating Mass and the sacrament of confession.  

“I feel unworthy but also very excited and grateful that my desire will become true,” Father Vianney concluded. “And surely, to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of Jesus every day and to show the mercy of God through the sacrament of Reconciliation.”  

Editor’s note: An earlier version is story suggested that Father John Vianney was the first member of the Community of the Beatitudes to be ordained in Denver. He is in fact the first priest from their community to be ordained in Denver. We apologize for the confusion.

COMING UP: Five tips for reading the Word of God

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Sunday, Jan. 24 marks “The Sunday of the Word of God,” instituted by Pope Francis last year and to be held every year on the third Sunday of Ordinary Time. This may strike us as odd, as we might think to ourselves, “but isn’t the Bible read at every Sunday Mass?” Certainly so. Not only that, but every daily celebration of the Mass proclaims the Word of God.

What’s different about “The Sunday of the Word of God,” however, is that it’s not just about hearing the Bible read on Sundays. As the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith notes, it “reminds us, pastors and faithful alike, of the importance and value of Sacred Scripture for the Christian life, as well as the relationship between the word of God and the liturgy: ‘As Christians, we are one people, making our pilgrim way through history, sustained by the Lord, present in our midst, who speaks to us and nourishes us. A day devoted to the Bible should not be seen as a yearly event but rather a year-long event, for we urgently need to grow in our knowledge and love of the Scriptures and of the Risen Lord, who continues to speak his word and to break bread in the community of believers. For this reason, we need to develop a closer relationship with Sacred Scripture; otherwise, our hearts will remain cold and our eyes shut, inflicted as we are by so many forms of blindness.’” This gives us a wonderful opportunity to pause and reflect on the Sacred Scriptures. 

There are two means by which God Divinely reveals truths to us: Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. As such, the Bible is not merely a human document, nor simply a collection of amazing stories that call us to do heroic things, or a collection of wise sayings. Rather, the Scriptures are “inspired.” St. Paul has a beautiful teaching about this in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – “All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice, That the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work.” By “inspired” we mean that God is the principle author of the Bible.

Certainly there were different men who physically wrote the words on the papyrus. Yet these men were influenced by the grace of inspiration to write, not just their own words, but God’s. And so the Scriptures are a mysterious congruence of Divine and human authorship – the human writers capably made full use of language, literary forms, creativity, and writing style to communicate their message, yet they did so under the grace of Divine inspiration. This means that while they wrote in such a way that they had full freedom to write as they wanted, what they wrote was also, “to a tee,” exactly as God wanted written. God is the principle author of the Bible, the human author its secondary writer. Such inspiration is how, despite the various human authors, events, and historical and cultural contexts behind the 73 Biblical texts, we’re still left with only one story since they all have the same one primary author. 

Given that the Bible is the written word of God, I’d like to offer a few “tips” for reading the Bible, since it certainly cannot be read like any other text. 

1. Pray! We must pray before opening the Scriptures for enlightenment from God. We must pray after reading in thanksgiving to God. And we must pray throughout reading in order to encounter God in Scripture and apply it to our life. Of course, the tried and trusted practice of praying the Scriptures is Lectio DivinaThe Ladder of Monks by Guigo II is the ancient resource for Lectio Divina, while a helpful book to get you started is Dr. Tim Gray’s Praying Scripture for a Change: An Introduction to Lectio Divina

2. Remember that you are in no rush. The important point is encountering Christ in the Scriptures, not racing through them. Speed reading isn’t reading, after all, much less when applied to the Word of God. It’s not about getting through the Bible, but encountering Christ therein. That may be a few chapters at a time or may actually be only one verse that you pray with. Whatever the case, slow and steady wins the race, as Aesop reminds us. 

3. We have to read the Scriptures regularly, daily if possible. We read in Psalm 1, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Meditating day and night. A good way to start would be to read one Psalm a night as a part of your nightly prayer. Ever better would be praying that one Psalm with your spouse, if married. 

4. Do not worry about starting on page one and reading from cover to cover. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and lost in the text. We all know about Adam and Eve, Noah and the Flood, Moses and the Plagues. But how many understand animal sacrifices in the Book of Leviticus or its purity laws? It’s very easy, starting from page one and flipping straight through, to lose sight of the story of salvation history. Start from page one if you’d like, but don’t feel like you can’t start with whatever book (especially the Gospels) that you find yourself drawn to. 

5. Come take classes with the Denver Catholic Biblical School! In chapter eight of the Book of Acts, we read of an Ethiopian Eunuch reading from the Prophet Isaiah. When the Deacon Philip asks him if he understands what he’s reading, the Eunuch responds, “How can I, unless some one guides me?” This is what we at the Biblical School are here for – to guide you in your encounter with Christ in the Sacred Scriptures. We’re in the middle of our Scripture classes already for this year, but we always start new classes in the fall every September. And in the meantime, we have plenty of things still coming for this year – a class on Catholic Social Teaching that begins on Jan. 27 a lecture series for Lent that starts on March 1, a conference on the Sacred Heart being offered on May 15 and Aug. 28, and a six-week class on St. Joseph in the summer starting in July. We have something for everybody – just reach out to us!