Father Hung Xuan Cao, 36, was born into a peasant farming family in central Vietnam.
Although his parents did not have much money, they worked hard to send their five children to primary and secondary school while instilling in them the importance of their Catholic faith. They also instilled in their children the value of hard work.
In fifth grade, he began to serve his parish as an altar server. Thanks to this ministry, he realized that priests are men, just like any other, who chose to serve and love the world and all its people. He began to open his heart to the possibility of the priesthood.
The Turning Point
The great turning point in his life came when he failed his entrance exam to an educational school in Saigon City. “I realized that God wanted me to focus on my vocation instead of paying importance to my job in the future,” he said.
The following year, he was accepted to the university in Hue City, where he studied social sciences. However, his mind was not preoccupied with worldly desires. The future priest recorded his mission in his diary: “From now on, I consider the university as a seminary and I am as a seminarian of that ‘seminary.’”
He attended daily Mass. He studied catechism in the Cathedral of Phu Cam, the home parish of Blessed Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan. And he was a member of the non-resident seminarians of Hue City, who met once a month to discern their vocation.
Once he graduated university, an entrance exam stood between him and his seminary goal. The test consisted of three parts: writing, catechism and English. Of 350 candidates, 47 were chosen. He was one of them.
He studied for two-and-a-half years at the Vinh Thanh Major Seminary for the Diocese of Vinh, Vietnam. In 2010, his bishop and the faculty at the seminary decided to send him to the United States under the sponsorship of the Diocese of Brooklyn.
He was surprised by the decision, but was determined to keep an open mind to all the possibilities New York City has to offer. He has since learned of the many cultures and different people residing in New York and has enjoyed discovering new foods.
He studied philosophy at St. John’s University, Jamaica, and then theology in St. Joseph’s Seminary, Yonkers. He has spent time ministering at St. John Vianney parish, Flushing, and St. Agatha parish, Sunset Park.
In his formation, Father Cao has been involved in youth ministry and taught in school. He has a special devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux. He enjoys writing, traveling and sports. Aside from Vietnamese and English, Father Cao has some knowledge of Mandarin Chinese.
He is thankful to Father Joseph Pham Ngoc Quang, whom he considers his spiritual father, and Msgr. Cuong Pham, whom he considers his mentor.
On his ordination day, he will be vested by Msgr. Pham and Father Quang.
Father Cao will offer his First Mass of thanksgiving at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, Astoria, on Sunday, July 1 at 3 p.m.