|9/22/2011 10:01:00 AM|
FATHER VO'S FIRST YEAR
One year in, an ever-growing vocation
What if parishioners don't like Rev. Quy Vo's homily? How does he celebrate a funeral Mass for a person he's never met? What if the young adult group he moderates questions his commentary on social topics?
A year into the priesthood, Father Vo has overcome many such challenges. The rookie shepherd is beginning to find balance between parish life and personal life, despite the unpredictability of his free time.
He's also learning how to make Mass holy, reverent and attractive to his flock, and how to model Jesus.
"This is what I'm called to do," Father Vo told The Evangelist. "Every day, I get up with different energy."
Father Vo has served as associate pastor at Blessed Sacrament parish in Albany since his ordination as a priest last June. He's become accustomed to the schedule of Masses, funerals, weddings and visits to the sick and homebound.
Young adult needs
But his involvement in youth ministry and school retreats inspired another question.
"In faith formation, we focus from kindergarten to 11th grade, but then what happens after that?" Father Vo pondered. "I find that our young people are not getting the faith."
The young priest decided to launch a young adult ministry at Blessed Sacrament. About a dozen members meet monthly for Mass or evening prayers, dinner and discussion.
Topics range from evolution to life issues, homosexuality and more.
"It is not easy - either for myself or for them," Father Vo said of the subject matter. "I have the responsibility of preaching truth; but, at the same time, I know they might not accept this at the moment. I pray about it. There is a desire of learning, of exploring our faith together."
He also prays to find the right words at funerals. Talking with the grieving families beforehand helps.
"I guess it's just experiencing it and learning," Father Vo said. "The idea is to honor a person's life, to help a mourner to get comfort and peace, to help them to understand that God works through the people we know the best."
Considering the funeral an opportunity for evangelization, he aims to "help the mourner to realize we are part of this family [of faith]. Death is not the end."
Father Vo, a native of Vietnam, sometimes celebrates the monthly Mass in Vietnamese for the Vietnamese Apostolate, which is based out of Sacred Heart parish in Albany.
"There is a great reward," he said of working with that community. "I feel that they've been struggling a lot."
First-generation immigrants comprise a sizable portion of the community, he explained; they do not understand English and want to pass the heritage on to younger members.
"Their grandparents and parents want them to understand that this is their culture, this is their root," Father Vo said, adding that his "hope and vision" is that the community becomes able to meet on a more regular basis.
Rest of time
Parish life in Albany, meanwhile, has helped Father Vo fine-tune his own English skills. Father Vo said he's also grateful to Rev. John Bradley, pastor at Blessed Sacrament, for being his mentor and helping him navigate his first year of priesthood.
"He allowed me to be the priest that God wants me to be," Father Vo said.
On his one weekday off, Father Vo enjoys traveling to Utica to visit family, seeing concerts and movies and visiting friends. He noted that the most important part of the priesthood is prayer.
"Pray each day so that hopefully unexpected situations are not that difficult," he advised, adding: "I feel very happy being a priest."
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