FORT MILL—Several days after his ordination, the true importance of Father Paul Nguyen’s role in this life really hit home. He was flying to Massachusetts to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving in his hometown of Worcester and ended up sitting next to a man who was intrigued to learn he was a Catholic priest.
After some conversation, the Charlotte resident revealed he had fallen away from the Church but would be interested in coming to Rock Hill in the future to talk about his faith.
“I realized then that it was only my first week as a priest and God had already used me to perhaps bring someone back to the Church,” Father Nguyen said. “The feeling is just incredible. God is incredible and I think He has used me well. It’s just a blessing to be able to be a priest!”
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone ordained the new Oratorian on May 25 at St. Philip Neri Church in Fort Mill. The pews were filled with over 500 members of his family, friends and members of the Vietnamese community from all over the state who wished to show their pride and gratitude in their new Vietnamese. Bishop Guglielmone thanked Father Nguyen’s family, members of the Oratory community and the parishes in Rock Hill for supporting him during his journey to the priesthood.
“We’re especially thankful we have another Vietnamese priest in the diocese because he will have the privilege of serving the Vietnamese community around the state,” Bishop Guglielmone said.
There are about 1,500 Vietnamese Catholics spread out around the state, with established communities in Rock Hill, Columbia, Greenville, Charleston and the Myrtle Beach area.
Franciscan Father David Q. Phan, vicar for Vietnamese Catholics, has been doing his best to travel to celebrate Mass in Vietnamese and serve the communities’ other needs, and the bishop said Father Nguyen will be a much-needed addition to the growing Vietnamese ministry.
The priest’s father, Sang Nguyen, said he and his wife Muon were both very proud of their son.
“I especially appreciate that he will be available to the Vietnamese communities that need him,” Mr. Nguyen said. “He will be able to help people, to shepherd people. I really hope the people in this diocese keep praying for him. Pray that he will help people learn their faith and stay with the Church.”
Father Nguyen returned to St. Philip Neri on May 26 to celebrate his first Mass.
“That was an incredible feeling, even though I was nervous and stumbling a little bit because I’m human,” he said “It’s such a great joy to celebrate and lead people in the most sacred worship of the Catholic faith. It’s unbelievable.”
His first assignment will be as parochial vicar at St. Anne in Rock Hill.