“Become a Living Gospel,” Bishop Tells Newly Ordained

“The very reason you were created was to come to this moment to be one with Christ,” Bishop Caggiano said to the two men about to be ordained at St. Augustine Cathedral this morning.

More than 750 people filled the church, some sitting on fold-up chairs, to witness the ordination of Philip Lành Phan, a native of Vietnam, and Eric William Silva, a Trumbull resident, to the priesthood.

The back doors of the historic downtown cathedral were thrown open for the joyous celebration with music and readings delivered in Vietnamese and English.

Vincent Vu, O. Carm., brother of Father Phan, proclaimed the first reading from the Book of Jeremiah in Vietnamese, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations, I appointed you.”

John Silva, brother of Father Silva, delivered the English readings, while Virginia Silva, their mother, and Xuan ThiTran Phan, mother of Father Phan, brought up the Offertory Gifts.

The two men were ordained following the Introductory Rites and the Liturgy of the Word.

They received prolonged applause from the gathering as the bishop called them forward.

After they made their promises, the men knelt before the bishop for the Laying on of Hands and Prayer of Ordination. All priests present then processed forward and imposed their hands on the ordained as a sign of brotherhood.

Bishop Caggiano told the two men that priests are first and foremost “shepherds of God’s people.”

“You must shepherd as a brother, servant and friend. Your ministry is not about the observance of the law alone but the power of love,” the bishop said.

The bishop told the newly ordained that they will have the awesome power to preach, to forgive sins and to consecrate the “bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ,” but in order to lead others, they must “stir the embers of faith” in their own hearts.

“In a world where words are many and cheap, you must become a living Gospel, preaching the Gospel with the integrity of your life. I pray for you that God’s people will see you as a living Gospel.”

The bishop  told Father Phan and Father Silva that when they preach, it must be “as men not afraid to tell the truth in and out of season, whether your hearers like it or not.”

Father Francisco Gomez-Franco, pastor of St. Charles Parish in Bridgeport, served as Master of Ceremonies.

Thomas Marino served as Music Director and Organist for the ordination, and Marjorie Donalds as cantor. The Ordination program also featured the Diocesan Youth Choir (C4Y) under the direction of Mary Bozzuti Higgins, the Diocesan Festival Choir, and the Choir of the Vietnamese Community of the Cathedral Parish.

After Mass the bishop thanked all present including the families and priests who helped to nurture the vocation of the newly ordained.

“What a beautiful and joyous celebration we’ve had together this day. We will remember this as a moment of grace for to young priests and for this diocese,” he said.

Hundreds then gathered on the green outside of the cathedral where a large tent was set up for the new priests to give their first blessings.

Father Phan will celebrate his first English Mass tonight (June 25) at St. John Church in Darien at 4:30 pm. Father Frank Hoffmann, St. John’s pastor, will give the homily. He will celebrate his first Vietnamese Mass on tomorrow (Sunday June 26) at St. Augustine Cathedral at 2:30 pm, Father Justin Le from San Jose, Calif., will deliver the homily.

Father Silva will celebrate
his first Mass on June 26-at
12 noon at St. Theresa Parish
in Trumbull. Father Joseph Marcello, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull, will give the homily.

Related story:
Read the biographies of the new priests