The priestly ordination took place May 14 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. The ordination was recorded and can be viewed here. Over the next few days, the Denver Catholic will be posting profiles of all of Denver’s newest priests.
Vincent Bui felt the call to enter the priesthood as early as the age of five. He would record himself celebrating pretend Masses day after day in his home district of Hải Hậu in the Nam Dinh province in Vietnam.
Of course, the priesthood also ran in his family. His uncle, also named Vincent Bui, was a priest, and at the age of 12, Bui went to stay with his uncle. This had a profound impact on him that would solidify his call to become a priest.
“Since I had lived with [my uncle], I had read the whole Bible, Catechism and many books of the saints,” Bui said. “I was inspired by those and my uncle’s priestly life and I felt the call to priesthood.”
After high school, Bui applied to the vocation office in the Diocese of Bui Chu and discerned entering the priesthood during his first year of college. After graduating from college, he got a job in Hanoi, Vietnam. He took a vacation and decide to go serve and teach Catechism to the poor in Central Vietnam.
“After two weeks of staying with them, in my prayers I truly heard God’s voice in my heart,” Bui said. “I left my job and came back to my diocese to serve in a parish for one year and the bishop’s house for one year before I can to St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in May of 2008.”
Now, after eight years of seminary, Bui has been ordained a priest for his home diocese of Bui Chu. Though he falls under the jurisdiction of the bishop of that diocese, Bishop Thomas Vu, Bui has been assigned to serve at All Saints Parish in Denver for the next three years, which has a large number of Vietnamese parishioners.
Thomas Nguyen’s family has known he would be a priest since he was a small child. Now, at the age of 32, he has made their dreams a reality.
“My grandparents always prayed that God would choose some of their offspring to be his priests,” Nguyen said. “My parents always thought I would become a priest, but they never said it out loud.”
Nguyen grew up in Vietnam, where many of his family’s friends were priests. He realized his vocation for himself on the feast of the Transfiguration, when he was about 10 years old and the Gospel reading moved something inside him.
“I felt with certainty the words ‘You are my beloved son, upon you my favor rests’ were addressed directly to me,” Nguyen said. “That voice filled me with peace and joy. I did not know what to do except to pull out my rosary from my pocket and begin to pray. I simply thought that praying the rosary would make me a good child and that I would be able to hear that voice addressed to me again.”
After high school, Nguyen joined a four-year vocational discernment group in the diocese of Bui Chu, Vietnam. After finishing Law school, he spent a year living with the pastor of his home parish to further discern. Finally, he worked in the office of the Bui Chu bishop, who eventually sent him to St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver.
Nguyen said he has enjoyed his time in seminary, but looks forward to parish life back in Vietnam.
“In seminary, you have professors to teach you; in the parish, people will look to you to teach them,” he said. “Therefore, the biggest adjustment moving from the seminary to the parish is concerning his the way you relate to God in the midst of change.”