Reverend Thomas Nguyen told his audience the Regina Archdiocese needs 12 Seminarians and it has only 3, "so talk about it with young men and pray. We have only 3 and next year we hope there will be 5 more but we need more."
Nguyen was speaking during a May 29 presentation, A Life of Vocations, which he and his Holy Cross Parishioners produced to bring attention to the lack of priestly vocations in the archdiocese. Nguyen also used the occasion to sing songs he wrote over several years, all of them devotional and most of them personal and in between he told the story of his own vocation, his call to priestly service and how it came about. (for his full story see Prairie Messenger May 4 Vocations Supplement).
He talked of his birth in Viet Nam, his youth, his first inkling of a call to the priesthood, the impact of the war, life under the communist regime, his escape to Malaysia, life in a refugee camp and his arrival in Canada, where he heard again the call to priesthood. All of it accompanied with a PowerPoint presentation some of which contained graphic photos of the war and included a stark black and white photo of the crowded boat used in the escape.
Most of the songs were written after he came to Canada. Nguyen gave a brief history of each song including the inspiration for them. He, was accompanied by Holy Cross musicians playing guitars drums and piano, performed them in groups of two interspersed with his personal testimony. Erna Woynarski and Yvonne Sink who also played piano, provided vocal background. The 6 songs are titled: Witness of Christ, God Chose me, I Offer to You All My Life, Alleluia Christ is Risen, The Beautiful Hands of a Priest and Night Prayer.
There were two intermissions which featured finger food including home made spring rolls and time to look and bid at a large selection of items, mostly art work, available in a silent Auction. All funds raised will be used to support archdiocesan seminarians.
As part of his presentation Nguyen listed the yearly costs of attending St. Peter's Seminary in London, Ontario, where he attended. They ranged over $20,000 annually, including tuition, accommodation and food. He estimated a single student could get by on $31-33,000 per year. The event raised about $3,500 including about $1,900 from the silent auction.
Nguyen emphasized the shortage of priests with current numbers: 99 priests, 30 retired and 65 active serving 165 parishes. 13 priests are over 65 and 35 are international priests pointing out the importance of international priests to the archdiocese.