Up Front and Personal

Fifty-Three Years, But Worth the Wait!

It only took 53 years to happen, but it was certainly worth the wait. Father Randy Nguyen, ordained a priest for the Diocese of Brooklyn on Saturday, June 1, celebrated his first Mass of Thanksgiving on Sunday, June 2, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Astoria.

It seems like an ordinary news story. However, it was truly an extraordinary event for the parish; for me personally, it was an answer to a prayer.

Simply stated, I was the last native son of Mount Carmel Parish to be ordained for the diocesan priesthood until Father Nguyen, also a native son of the parish, became one of our four newly ordained priests.

In recent years, the vocation committee at Mount Carmel Parish has made heroic efforts to promote vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. Under the capable leadership of Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Paul Sanchez, and Msgr. Sean Ogle, former pastors, and Msgr. Cuong Pham, the current pastor, there has been no lack of effort to invite young people to discern whether God is calling them to serve in a Church-related vocation. The ordination of Father Nguyen and his first Mass are certainly the fruits of these efforts.

As I watched Father Randy celebrate his first Mass, it not only brought tears of joy to my eyes, but it also brought back many wonderful memories of my first Mass in the same sanctuary 53 years ago on May 30, 1971. It was truly an honor and a privilege for me to be present 53 years later and to literally “pass the baton” to Father Nguyen as he became the newest native son of the parish to become a priest.

Hopefully, it will not be long before he passes the same baton to another native son from the parish.

Our hope is that through the efforts of this great parish — lovingly called the “Mother Church” of Queens County — and the grace of God, we will continue to witness Jesus sending laborers into His harvest. God continues to call. Our fervent prayer is that young people are listening to the call and are open to saying “Yes” to God’s invitation.

I give thanks to God for having witnessed this most special occasion and now pray that Father Randy, grateful for his vocation, will inspire others to serve the Lord with joy. Please join me in giving thanks to God for our new priests as we pray for their holiness and happiness.

They now share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ who has begun this good work in them and who will bring it to completion.