Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will ordain Philip Lành Phan, a native of Vietnam, and Eric William Silva, a Trumbull resident, to the priesthood for the Diocese of Bridgeport in St. Augustine Cathedral on June 25.
“Once again the Lord has called faithful and generous men to serve the Church,” says Father Robert Kinnally, rector of St. John Fisher Seminary in Stamford. “We are blessed to have seen the good work God has done with these future min- isters of Word and Sacrament and look forward to experiencing the grace that will come from their service to the Church of Bridgeport.”
Philip Lành Phan
Philip Lành Phan, 31, was born in Vinh-Long, Vietnam. His parents still live there, where they are members of Sacred Heart Parish in the city of Tra-On. A sister and brother also live in Vietnam. Both parents will be on hand for the Ordination Mass, where his mother will be a gift bearer. The Mass will include readings in Vietnamese by Brother Vincent Vu, O. Carm.
Father Phan attended local schools and graduated from Can-Tho University in 2007 with a bachelor of science degree. Following graduation he worked as a technician for the Golden Rice Pesticide Company in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in Vietnam.
“During the first half of my life, about fifteen years ago, I dreamt of becoming a business- man, a successful engineer, or whatever profession that could make me a significant and out- standing person. Becoming a priest was not in the category at all, since I was not a Christian,” he says.
When he was 20, he had a personal encounter with Christ that led him to the Catholic faith. He was baptized in 2004.
“My whole life changed,” he says. “It was like the moment when Jesus called Peter and Andrew to follow him. They were fishermen, and they thought that all they wanted was to become skillful fishermen. Yet, Jesus called them and made them fishers of men instead.”
Coming to this country, he entered St. John Fisher Seminary in Stamford in 2007 for language training. In 2010 he was transferred to Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., and completed his seminary studies this year. Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish in Stamford is his current home parish.
He was ordained to the diaconate in St. Augustine Cathedral on June 20, 2015, by Bishop Caggiano and served his deacon internship at St. John Parish in Darien and St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Waynesboro, Penn.
“Like the two Apostles, I will keep my dream of becoming a significant and outstanding per-son—but not in a worldly success, only in God and in serving his people as a priest.”
Father Phan, being bilingual, will celebrate his first English Mass on 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 June 26 at St. Augustine Cathedral at 2:30 pm, Father Justin Le from San Jose, Calif., will deliver the homily.
Eric William Silva
Eric William Silva, who will turn 26 in August, is one of three sons of Richard and Virginia McGowan Silva. He grew up in Trumbull, where St. Theresa is still his family’s home parish. He went to Booth Hill Elementary School in Trumbull and graduated from St. Joseph High School in 2008.
During his years at St. Joe’s, he became active in the High School Apostles youth leadership program. He attended St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., until the spring semester of his junior year before entering St. John Fisher Seminary and finishing his undergraduate degree at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield.
“My own call to the priest- hood began with the realization that I was made for much more than the life I was living,” he says. “After having entered the seminary, I came to know who God and his Church are at a level that I could have never have encountered had I not left college to pursue the call that God put before me.”
He was ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Caggiano on June 20, 2015. He served his dea- con year pastoral assignment on Mt. St. Mary’s University campus in their campus ministry office in Emmitsburg, Md. He completed his fourth year of theological studies at the seminary there this year.
“From the first day I entered the seminary, through daily prayer, a frequent reception of the sacraments and a pursuit of virtue, God made apparent that the way in which I am called to best love him and his children is as his priest. It is a life and a vocation that I hope to live, thanking God each day for having created me for this. I can think of no better way than to spend life here on earth serving God through serving his people.”
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.