by KATHLEEN CASEY
It was a glorious ceremony as three young Vietnamese men were ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Barry Jones on June 27 at St Mary’s pro-cathedral.
Concelebrants included Emeritus Bishop Basil Meeking, Msgr Brendan Daly and Fr Simon Eccleton.
Fr Dong Cao, the uncle of Deacon Tien Cao, was also present.
In addition to rich liturgy not seen for 10 years in Christchurch, superb music from the combined choirs of Burnside, Mairehau and Bryndwr parishes, where the students served, and a warmer day, the ceremony was uplifting. Numbers of people in the packed church commented that they were very moved, often to tears.
Do Nguyen, Tien Cao and Thanh Tran came from Vietnam to study for ordination in New Zealand because Vietnam seminaries were too full for them to enter. Their English was limited, nothing was easy at the start. They have taken on a new life to serve as priests in New Zealand and their joy is evident.
“‘The great favour of God is boundless: forever I will sing the praise of his grace.’ These are the heartfelt feelings of all three of us,” they wrote in the order of service…
“This is the sincere heart we want to offer God for all the blessings he has bestowed upon us… With deep gratitude we want to… thank Bishop Barry, all the priests, religious and parishioners in the diocese… for opening your loving arms and warm hearts wide to receive us into the family… and for supporting, teaching, loving, praying and caring for us so tenderly and wholeheartedly since we set foot on this beautiful land.”
They also thanked their parents still in Vietnam for their birth, upbringing, their faith and sacrifices made.
At the crowded reception at Bishopdale parish, Fr Simon Eccleton described how the three men had
embarked on a remarkable journey.
“We have embraced them and now they have more mothers than anyone I know,” he said of the warm
efforts made by parishioners. For Christchurch diocese this great event in the power of God was a huge boost.
Priestly ordination is set for December 5 in Christchurch when each deacon expects to have present his own family members.