WCR PHOTO | GLEN ARGAN
Fathers Carlos Nunez (left) and Luan Vu (right) receive warm applause after Archbishop Richard Smith ordained them July 5 at St. Joseph's Basilica.
It's nearly 12,000 km from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to Edmonton. But Cay Pham made that journey so she could be present at the July 5 priestly ordination of her son Father Luan Vu, an ordination that was the culmination of his own incredible journey.
"It's a great occasion, so we sponsored her," said Pham's daughter-in-law Thao Nguyen following the ordination Mass at St. Joseph's Basilica.
The new priest's mother will visit Canada for two months prior to returning to Vietnam. Vu's ordination is "a great honour," said Nguyen. "We're really happy."
Actually, it was a rare double ordination with both Vu and Father Carlos Nunez receiving the sacrament of Holy Orders.
Nunez's mother Diane said it was a shock many years ago when Carlos announced he was going to Mission, B.C., to begin studies for the priesthood.
But Diane, who has two cousins who are priests, supported her son all the way. "I always told my children we're there to support you in whatever you choose to be and whatever you choose has to be lived with enthusiasm."
She was glad to see Father Carlos respond to his call. "I feel very excited, very joyful that this day has finally come because he has worked and studied for a long time."
For both Nunez, 30, and Vu, 44, the call to the priesthood was pursued with great perseverance.
Nunez overcame academic challenges while Vu came to Edmonton after the Vietnamese government repeatedly rejected his application to enter the seminary. (See stories in the May 27 WCR.)
In his homily at the ordination Mass, Archbishop Richard Smith described the pair of new priests as "two works of art" created by the divine artist himself.
"We gather around our brothers Carlos and Luan, who have been fashioned by God in their very creation, refashioned by him through Baptism, and are now about to be formed anew through a specific identification with Christ bestowed in ordination," the archbishop said.
Smith said the sacrament of ordination will give them the supernatural gifts needed so that through their priestly ministry they can each fashion "a beautiful portrait of the loving and merciful Christ.
"Be faithful to your calling always, and pray daily that your particular artistry will draw many into the mystery and joy of Christ's call to life and discipleship."
As of Aug. 14, Vu will serve as associate pastor at Edmonton's St. Theresa Parish and Nunez at Good Shepherd Parish.
Another priestly ordination for the Edmonton Archdiocese may be a year away. Auxiliary Bishop Gregory Bittman recently ordained Kris Schmidt to the transitional diaconate.