His Path to the Priesthood
Seminarian Truc Nguyen is a native of Saigon, South Vietnam. All of Vietnam, North and South, is seven percent Catholic and 80 percent Buddhist. Many of Truc’s friends were Buddhists. In spite of their small minority, there are many Catholic churches in South Vietnam that serve small congregations. Truc often had friends come to his house, many of whom became Catholic Truc said that his journey to the priesthood had been a journey of faith that began when he was five-years old, when he loved to clean the religious statues.
At age 18, because he was good at math, he wanted to become a scientist. To enter a university, high marks were needed. However, because his father was a major in the South Vietnamese army, he was denied entry into a University. He felt the need to escape to Malaysia to pursue his goals. In 1989, at age 22, he and a friend embarked on the hazardous journey. They spent four days on the ocean, however Truc felt he was in good hands because there were seven other refugees also on the board the boat. They all became priests later. Unfortunately, some of those who escaped to Malaysia were sent back to South Vietnam, and sadly some of those committed suicide, however none were Catholics.
In Malaysia he worked in the Legion of Mary, and soon became the leader of its 150 members. It was here that he decided to become a priest. To do this, he would have to leave Malaysia and go to Japan, the United States, Canada, or Australia. He ended up in Australia at age 27. One difficulty was that he did not have the proper educational background and could not speak English, which would prevent him from becoming a priest. He then decided that he would become a brother instead. However, he was told that priests were needed, not brothers, and his English was now acceptable. Because he was a student, the government paid his way in the seminary, as they do for all low-income students. He felt that the priesthood was beyond his capabilities, he asked God for direction, saying “If I fail it is your fault”. Things worked out and Truc was accepted in the seminary in Australia, where he furthered his study of English and studied Philosophy (in English)!
The course of study in Australia was six years, and if he stayed in Australia he would have been ordained in 2004. In 2002 Truc came to Texas to visit his cousin. He decided to finish his studies in Texas, and spent one year at Holy Trinity Seminary in Dallas. The course of study in the United States is nine years, so Truc, now at age 40, has two more years to go before ordination. He goes to an English class one day each week to minimize his South Vietnamese accent, and he is now in pastoral year of training at Mary Queen Church in Friendswood, Texas, which began in September of 2006.
Truc said that he likes to talk, likes to sing, but finds writing somewhat difficult. He said that the purpose of a priest is just not to become a priest, but to fulfill the vocation.
Before Truc entered the seminary, becoming a priest was nearly “Mission impossible”.