Ordination seals journey to Christ

BRIDGEPORT— In a moment of joy, pride, and reverence, Anh Vu was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano on Saturday Morning June 11 at St. Augustine Cathedral.

The ordination marked an 11-year journey of formation and study for Anh Vu, a native of Dong Nai Vietnam, who worked as a mechanical engineer before coming to the United States in 2011.

“This morning we gather to ask the Holy Spirit to come upon you and form your mind, heart, and will into the image of Jesus Christ,” said Bishop Caggiano, who was seated before the altar for the ordination rite.

“Thank you for persevering, for your patience and fidelity, for your generosity and your joyful heart,” said the bishop to Anh Vu, who is one of eight children.

Describing Fr. Vu’s life as an adventure and a journey, the bishop said God has given him the “grace and blessings” to be ready for ordination and his priesthood.

“Now you come relying on the grace of Holy Spirit to present yourself,” he said before Fr. Vu took The Promise of the Elect. “May that same spirit come upon you and conform you—mind, heart and will into the image of Jesus.”

In his homily the bishop said “Never forget your dignity as a priest and what you are called to do.” He urged Fr. Vu to always remain humble and to give his life in service to others.

The bishop said that a priest should “Exercise leadership as a servant. Authority is given not to lord over anyone, but that you might offer your life so those entrusted to your care can have greater life in Christ.”

He said that Fr. Vu must be ready to “preach and teach the truth fearlessly, and effectively,” so that his modern day brothers and sisters who have fallen away from the Church of have no faith, can hear it and he can accompany them in their struggles.

The bishop said ordination gives the priest the mystery of the sacraments to heal others.

“Here on this day you are being invited to be the unworthy instrument to break the chains of sins, and offer freedom to those in bondage; to accompany those who are ill and sick with the healing only God can give. And most especially, to come to the altar of Christ to be his instrument so that mere bread and wine become the food of everlasting life.”

The bishop said that words fail to adequately describe in the mystery” or ordination in which a priest becomes one with the Eucharist in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
He said that the key to interpreting the mystery of priestly life is to focus on “the great sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.”

The life of the late Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, offers a glimpse into the mystery of priesthood, the bishop said, noting that Cardinal Thuan was imprisoned by the communists for 13 years, nine of those in solitary confinement, after the fall of Saigon.

“In silence of all those years it was his cough medicine that can teach us a lesson,” the bishop quipped.

He said that Cardinal Thuan requested the medicine for his persistent cough. However, the authorities didn’t realize that in place of the cough syrup, his followers had substituted wine and scraps of bread, which he used to celebrate Mass every day at 3 pm during his imprisonment.

Photos by Amy Mortensen

The bishop said that confined to harsh imprisonment, the Cardinal could only use the palm of his hands as an altar while he quietly said Mass in his cell every day at the hour Christ died.

“In the palm of his hand, he recognized who he was, who his Lord was, and what his life was destined to be,” the bishop said before he consecrated Fr. Vu’s hands. “Remember how gracious is our God to allow you and me and our brother priests to use our hands as the altar of everlasting life.”

Throughout his suffering, Cardinal Thuan was a beacon of hope. “As shepherd of his people, he found whatever way possible to give them hope, when hope was lacking,” the bishop said.

Before giving the final blessing, Bishop Caggiano asked the newly ordained Fr. Vu to stand by him and translate his remarks in Vietnamese for Fr. Vu’s father, who watched the Mass online in Vietnam while recovering from illness. He also personally thanked Fr. Anh Vu’s mother, who attended the ordination, and stood beside him for photos after the Mass.

“I want to say thank you to your mom and dad who gave us two children,” said the bishop noted that in the last eight days both Anh Vu and his brother, Vincent, who was also in attendance, were ordained to the priesthood.

He also announced that Fr. Vu’s first assignment will be at St. Leo Parish in Stamford under the direction of Fr. James D. Grosso, pastor.

Deacon Anh Vu was vested by Father Robert Kinnally, newly named Vicar General of the Diocese and Pastor of St. Aloysius Parish. The first reading was read in English by Deacon Anh Vu’s niece, Michelle Vu and the second in Vietnamese by Deacon Anh Vu’s friend ThaiHoa Le. Mr. Ngon Vu and Mrs. Xuyen Nguyen carried the gifts.

Msgr. James Mongelluzzo, Father Vincent Daily and Father Joseph Zwosta from Pope Saint John XXIII National Seminary were in attendance along with Father Charles Caccavale from St. Joseph Seminary. Deacon Patrick Toole and Mr. Carlos Mesquita served as Master of Ceremonies.

The Liturgical Musicians were led by Dr. William H. Atwood, Organist and Diocesan Director of Music Ministry, and Mr. Douglas Tran, Director of the Vietnamese Choir of The Cathedral Parish.