Diocesan News

Diocese of Brooklyn Ordains Three New Transitional Deacons

The three new transitional deacons (from left) Randy Thanh Nguyen, Caetano Moura de Oliveira, and Luis Marquez. (Photos: Ed Wilkinson)

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — The three men who were ordained transitional deacons Sunday, July 9, all thought about being a priest since they were young, but each followed a different route in pursuing their vocations.

Randy Thanh Nguyen, Luis Marquez, and Caetano Moura de Oliveira were ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Robert Brennan at the Cathedral Basilica of St. James, Brooklyn, on July 9.  They, along with one more member of the class studying at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers — Tobechukwu Offiah are scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Brooklyn next spring.


The three new transitional deacons, Randy Thanh Nguyen, Caetano Moura de Oliveira, and Luis Marquez, are now one step closer to priesthood. (Photos: Ed Wilkinson)

Msgr. Sean Ogle, vicar for clergy and consecrated life for the diocese, presented the men to Bishop Robert Brennan, saying that they have been found worthy of ordination during their time of formation. The congregation applauded, signifying its approval.

During the ceremony, the three men accepted the book of the Gospels as Bishop Brennan urged: “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”

They also pledged obedience to Bishop Brennan and promised to live a celibate life of service to the Church. They also were vested in the tunic and dalmatic, the vestments of a deacon.

Bishop Brennan laid his hands on the heads of each candidate as they received the sacrament of holy orders.

More than 800 people filled the cathedral to standing room only status.

Deacon Nguyen, 30, was born in Minnesota of Vietnamese immigrant parents, he moved with his family to Elmhurst when he was 2 years old.  He received first Communion and confirmation at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Astoria.

He attended PS 7, IS 5, the High School for Environmental Studies in Manhattan, and Hunter College, where he majored in biology and pre-med.

“During my free time, I would be helping and working in Our Lady of Mount Carmel, as an altar server, sacristan, volunteer, and a receptionist in the rectory office,” he said. “God’s call was very strong in my life growing up because I would go to Mass every day when on vacation with my grandparents in Virginia, which made my faith even stronger.”

Although he first thought about being a priest when he was 7 years old, his family encouraged him to pursue a career in medicine. After two semesters in medical school in the Caribbean, he changed course and opted for a religious vocation.

He studied philosophy for two years at Cathedral House of Formation, Douglaston, and then was sent for theological studies at St. Vincent’s Seminary, Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

Deacon Nguyen said he is excited about being ordained a deacon and looks forward to performing his first baptism.

He speaks Vietnamese, Spanish, and English, and will serve at St. Michael’s Church, Sunset Park, for the summer and then return to St. Vincent’s Seminary, where he will complete his theological studies, while ministering on weekends in parishes in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. 

Deacon Luis Marquez, 36, was born in Medellín, Colombia, where he attended the Archdiocese of Medellín Minor Seminary. When his family immigrated to the United States in 2002, they settled in New Jersey and he earned a degree in foreign languages and taught Spanish on the elementary school level in Englewood.

“Since I was a child, my father taught me about the Catholic faith and one day while we were going to Mass, my father proposed that I serve in the church as an altar boy,” explained Deacon Marquez. “I consider his advice as the beginning of the call to the priesthood.”

Deacon Marquez entered the seminary but then decided to pursue other studies, but the idea of priesthood never left him.

“I had great signs that God wanted me to be a priest. One was from a woman I met at New Jersey City College. She was pregnant, and she wanted an abortion. My advice was that the being of her in her womb would one day call her Mom. I never saw her again until one day we met in a class where she brought her beloved son, and she thanked me.”

In 2017, he again responded to God’s call to a religious vocation. “I just had to try again,” he said.

Deacon Marquez will serve at St. Ephrem’s parish, Dyker Heights, for the summer before returning to Pope St. John XXIII Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts, to complete his theology studies.

Deacon Caetano Moura de Oliveira, 30, was born in Jundiaí, São Paulo, Brazil. 

Raised in the Neocatechumenal Way community, a post-Vatican II Catholic charism that trains members to grow in their faith, he would pray morning prayers with his family on Sundays at home, attend the celebration of the Eucharist on Saturday evenings at the parish of Our Lady of Exile Cathedral and participate in the monthly Sunday retreats, where the community would gather to pray, eat, and share their experiences of faith.

“Perhaps my fondest memory is to pray with my family on Sundays, since during the prayers my parents would reconcile, had there been an argument or something like that, and also it would be a time for them to listen to us and to help us in our struggles as children and teenagers,” said Deacon Moura de Oliveira. “Little by little my parents transmitted faith to us, their children.”

In 2012, on a youth pilgrimage in Brazilia, he visited the Hermida de Don Bosco (Don Bosco’s Hermitage) where he “clearly heard Jesus Christ calling me to follow after Him.”  

The catechists leading the pilgrimage invited those who felt called to become priests to stand up, and he made a public acceptance of the call. 

“At this moment, the following phrase came to my mind, ‘Caetano, you do not know what you are missing.’ Then, I jumped! From then on, I joined the vocational center.”

After two years of discernment meetings and screening, in 2013, he entered the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Newark, where he studied for five years. 

In 2018, when the Redemptoris Mater Seminary moved to Douglaston, he joined a group of 12 seminarians living in community at the Immaculate Conception Center. 

In 2019, he did missionary pastoral work in California and New Jersey, attending many meetings with the communities of the Neocatechumenal Way.

He will spend the summer as a transitional deacon ministering at Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Jamaica, Queens, before returning to the seminary for further theological studies.