Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Salesians Ordain 4 Refugees

Salesians Ordain 4 Refugees

Ordinarily, I wouldn't write about ordinations like that.  But in today's political climate, it seems "right and just" to do so.

Photo by Emma Dallman for the province
On June 24 the New Rochelle Province had the supremely happy occasion of the ordination of 4 new priests:  3 for our own U.S. East Province and 1 for the Middle East Province (our province is his province of origin).  All 4 of these men came to the U.S. as refugees--not in the recent crisis (or crises) involving Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, or our southern border but between 1992 and 2000.  2 of them came from Vietnam and 2 from Haiti; 3 of them came as minors with their families, 1 as a young adult.

The ordination Mass was celebrated at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Pelham Manor, N.Y., on a beautiful Saturday morning.  Once again our province was honored to have one of our own SDB cardinals, Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras and coordinator of the Pope's council of cardinals, preside over and carry out the ordinations.

I can't tell you much about the Mass or the homily except that the church was packed, with people standing, with SDBs, FMAs, Cooperators, Don Bosco Volunteers, friends and families of the ordinands, past pupils, present pupils, and parishioners from as far away as Toronto; and I heard that the homily was exceptionally good.

Can't tell you because--as I alluded to at the end of my post on the Catholic Media Conference in Quebec, June 21-23--God had other plans for my travel from Quebec to New York.  I was to take a 5:10 p.m. flight on Friday, connect in Montreal, and arrive at LaGuardia around 9:30 p.m.  But the plane for that flight never made it to Quebec due to bad weather somewhere else, and the flight was cancelled.  After a couple of hours involving 2 trips to the Air Canada counter and a very long phone call to their service center (Air Canada really needs a better way to handle these things!), I got a flight to Toronto around 8:30 p.m. and a 6:00 a.m. flight to LaGuardia from there.  On arrival at LGA, there were no SDBs available to meet me--they were on their way to the ordinations--I had to use public transportation:  bus to Manhattan, Metro North to Pelham, taxi to church; and got to the Mass as Cardinal Rodriguez was finishing the Eucharistic Prayer: "thru him, with him, and in him," etc.  The pastor met me and my luggage in the church foyer, and remarked, "You're  a little late."
Frs. Chu and Dang giving out Holy Communion

So from that point, I shot a lot of photos--the end of Mass, the 1st blessings, and the reception.  Thanks to the intervention of our new provincial, Fr. Tim Zak, I was also able to get some good portraits of the newly ordained (altho the background wasn't ideal for portraits).

I've posted earlier about our new priests:  about Frs. Paul Chu, Minh Dang, and Dieunel Victor and about Fr. Wilgintz Polynice.  No need to repeat the stories of their vocations.
Fr. Minh Dang
Fr. Wilgintz Polynice
Fr. Dieunel Victor
Fr. Paul Chu

For the last 4 years, of course, they've been studying theology and doing pastoral ministry to prepare them for service as priests.  Frs. Paul, Minh, and Dieunel studied at the Studium Theologicum Salesianum (aka the Ratisbonne Monastery) while Fr. Wilgintz studied at Seton Hall University's Immaculate Conception Seminary.

Fr. Paul Chu
 has been assigned to Don Bosco Prep High School in Ramsey, N.J., as coordinator of youth ministry.  Fr. Dieunel Victor will fill the same office at Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park, Md.  Fr. Wilgintz Polynice has been assigned to the retreat team at Don Bosco Retreat Center in Haverstraw-Stony Point, N.Y.  Fr. Minh Dang will take up an assignment in Egypt and work on his Arabic.

At the end of the ordination Mass, the four new priests together gave their first blessing to Cardinal Rodriguez (above). Then there was a scrum of parents, relatives, friends, and members of the Salesian family for blessings, and many photographers doing their best to get pictures.

A reception dinner followed at the Surf Club in New Rochelle, N.Y. There each of the ordinati spoke brief words of gratitude to God, Mary Help of Christians, their parents and family, their confreres, and their friends.

From the reception I went to the provincial house and took a deserved nap (having gone to bed at 12:30 a.m. and gotten up at 5:00 a.m., then spent 6 hours traveling and 3+ hours working with my camera).  When I went down to the dining room, there was Cardinal Oscar in casual conversation with Bro. Andy Lacombe over a modest meal.  The cardinal was interested in the SIGNIS conference, so we chatted for a few minutes.  He's always approachable and down-to-earth--like the good Salesian he is!
Fr. Dieunel, Fr. Minh, Cardinal Oscar, Fr. Paul, and Fr. Wilgintz

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