Fr Dong and Fr Karl ordained to the priesthood
Fr Dong Van Nguyen and Fr Karl Sinclair were ordained to the priesthood by Bishop of Bathurst, the Most Reverend Michael McKenna, on Friday 21 February at the Cathedral of St Michael and St John, Bathurst.
After more than eight years of study, formation and preparation in the parishes of the Bathurst Diocese and at the Seminary of the Good Shepherd, Homebush, this is an exciting time for both Fr Karl and Fr Dong, but also for the Catholic Diocese of Bathurst.
As newly ordained priests, Karl has been appointed as Assistant Priest in the Parish of St Mary and St Joseph, Orange; and Dong has been appointed to the Parish of Mary of the Presentation, Mudgee, as Assistant Priest.
More than 500 people attended the ordinations, with many travelling from interstate and overseas. Dong’s mother and brother travelled from Vietnam, as well as three priests: two from his home Diocese of Duk Lak, and one from the Diocese of Kontum, where Dong was born.
The following is an edited version of the homily given by Bishop McKenna at the ordination:
Homily for the Ordination to Priesthood of Karl Sinclair and Dong Van Nguyen
Cathedral of St Michael and St John, Bathurst
21st February 2020
The Lord appointed seventy two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit…(Lk 10:1)
As we celebrate the Sacrament of Ordination tonight, you will hear in the Church’s prayer echoes of the readings that Karl and Dong have chosen and we have just heard.
My reflections on these readings will be shaped by three words of advice that Pope Francis gave to a group of new bishops a few years ago. What the Holy Father said applies just as well to new priests.
He said: Become holy; be close to your people; and remember your call.
Become holy. Note the word “become”. Of course, none of us is holy yet, until we see God face to face. But the desire for holiness must be renewed day by day as we make that journey. We are not talking about superficial piety, but about the remaking of our hearts: allowing God to transform our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh: letting God’s merciful love free us from the prison of selfishness to go out and love others.
The more we love, the more we learn to trust in God. Jesus sent out the seventy-two “with no purse, no haversack, no sandals”. This was in fact a formation experience for them: not looking for security or success: only trusting that in doing God’s will they would be blessed.
Be close to your people. The seventy two were sent out to share the life of people as they found them: “take whatever food and drink they have to offer”. Our Bathurst priests have been good at immersing themselves in the communities they have been sent to serve; and this has been part of Karl and Dong’s formation.
But closeness to the people of Christ also means awakening in them their own vocation to share in responsibility for the mission. It is not only what the priest can do for the people, or what they can do for him, but what together they can do to make the Church a sacrament for the world.
Remember your call. Jesus famously said “You did not choose me: I chose you.” In today’s gospel, we see once again that Jesus never asked for volunteers: he called. There is an interplay between our search for God and God finding us: as Dong and Karl have learnt in their years of discernment. But it is God who calls.
Karl and Dong, your specific call to ordination began in the Upper Room, at the Last Supper, when Jesus washed the feet of the Twelve and commissioned them to renew in his name the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Your service as ordained priests: sacraments, teaching and leading: all come from that participation in the Apostolic ministry, to which, in the name of the Church I now call you.
Both Fr Dong and Fr Karl celebrated their first Mass of Thanksgiving on Saturday 22nd February: Dong in the Cathedral of St Michael and St John, Bathurst, and Karl in the Chapel of St Stanislaus’ College, Bathurst.
Fr Karl celebrated Mass in his home parish, St Anthony of Padua, Toongabbie on Sunday 1st March and Fr Dong travelled to Vietnam with his family and celebrated Thanksgiving Masses in the Vinh Duc and Ngoc Long Parishes. Bishop McKenna also went to Vietnam to be with Fr Dong on this happy occasion, and while there visited the families of our seminarians.
As newly ordained priests, Fr Karl has been appointed as Assistant Priest in the Parish of St Mary and St Joseph, Orange; and Fr Dong has been appointed to the Parish of Mary of the Presentation, Mudgee, as Assistant Priest.
Please keep our newest priests in your prayers as they take up their new ministries.