May 30, 2011
It was the moment he waited for since 2004, so it was fitting that a warm and sunny spring day was the setting as Rev. Mr. Dat Q. Tran was ordained a Paulist priest by Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York on May 28 at the Paulist mother church, the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in Manhattan.
More than 500 people gathered at the church to bear witness to the ordination of the newest Paulist priest, including more than 75 of Rev. Mr. Tran’s Paulist brothers, many members of Rev. Mr. Tran’s family were there to show their support as well.
The atmosphere was brimming with joyous expectation as St. Paul’s choir, accompanied by the pipe organ, began the entrance hymn for the five-minute clergy procession to the altar.
After the Gospel reading, Rev. Mr. Tran was called forth by Paulist formation director Father Paul Huesing, C.S.P., and presented to Archbishop Dolan by Paulist President Father Michael B. McGarry as a candidate for the priesthood. On behalf of the entire church, Archbishop Dolan then chose Rev. Mr. Tran for the Order of Priesthood with the assembly expressing the assent with cheers and thunderous applause.
Archbishop Dolan thanked Rev. Mr. Tran’s parents at the beginning of his homily.
“Mr. and Mrs. [Tien] Tran, thank you for the Catholic faith you modeled and passed on to your son,” the archbishop said. “We thank you for giving your son to the church.”
Archbishop Dolan then commented on his respect and admiration for the ministry of the Paulist Fathers, and then spoke directly to the soon-to-be-ordained Rev. Mr. Tran.
“Your best days are ahead of you,” he said, “but it’s not really about you, is it? It is about Jesus and his church. We are proud of you, we congratulate you, we rejoice in you. But this is about a call, an invitation, responding to God’s initiative, to the call of Jesus.”
The Rite of Ordination continued with Rev. Mr. Tran promising to preach the Gospel and explain the faith worthily and wisely, to celebrate the liturgy of the church faithfully, pray continually for the people and live a life of holiness.
Rev. Mr. Tran then placed his joined hands between those of the archbishop as he promised respect and obedience to the bishops in the dioceses where he will serve and to his religious superiors.
Archbishop Dolan then invited all to pray for the bestowal of heavenly gifts upon Rev. Mr. Tran, now lying prostrate in front of the altar as the Litany of Saints commenced.
The archbishop then laid his hands on the head of Rev. Mr. Tran as a sign of the gift of the Holy Spirit for the priestly office. The laying on of hands was followed by Rev. Mr. Tran’s Paulist brothers, signifying his incorporation into the Paulist priesthood.
Then, with hands extended, Archbishop Dolan offered the prayer of ordination: “Grant, we pray, Almighty Father, to this, your servant, the dignity of the priesthood; renew deep within him the Spirit of holiness; may he henceforth possess this office which comes from you, O God, and is next in rank to the office of bishop; and by the example of his manner of life, may he instill right conduct.”
Newly-ordained Father Tran was then invested with the priestly stole and chasuble by his parents and Paulist Father Donald Campbell and Father Joseph Chuc Tran, MM. Archbishop Dolan then anointed Father Tran’s hands with Holy Chrism as a symbol of Father Tran’s distinctive participation in the priesthood of Christ.
Father Tran’s parents brought the gifts of bread and wine forth, and the archbishop handed the new priest a chalice containing wine mixed with water and a paten filled with bread.
Archbishop Dolan then offered Father Tran a kiss of peace, sealing the reception of his new co-worker in priestly ministry. The Liturgy of the Eucharist then proceeded.
Father Tran celebrated his first Mass the next morning at St. Paul. His first priestly assignment will be as associate pastor at the St. Paul the Apostle Church in Los Angeles.
“We Paulists already recognize that Father Tran is a gift to us and to the church,” said Father McGarry. “Now he will be serving our parish community in Los Angeles, including the school, this year celebrating 75 years of ministry. Father Tran’s many gifts, including his linguistic skills of Vietnamese and Spanish, will serve the church well. As Archbishop Dolan said on his ordination day, ‘This is a glorious day for the Paulists.’ Indeed.”
Rev. Mr. Tran has come a long way from the boy who was too shy to become an altar server. He remembers praying with his mother as a child, and joining his five siblings in praying the rosary at bedtime. Rev. Mr. Tran was 7 years old when he emigrated from Vietnam to the United States with his family that attended Mass at both Vietnamese- and English-speaking parishes.
The youngest of the six Tran children (including four boys) in a very religious family, Father Tran said it would have been “impossible for me not to think about the possibility of becoming a priest.”
He resisted the call until it was too strong to ignore as a student attending the University of California at Berkeley, where he graduated with bachelor’s degrees in political science and American studies.
“I always jokingly told my friends that I’d join the seminary when I was 30 if I didn’t like my job and wasn’t in a relationship,” said Father Tran. “Thirty then was old to me.”
It was his involvement in campus ministry at Berkeley’s Newman Hall-Holy Spirit Parish that inspired the future priest to enter the Paulist novitiate just a few short months after ordination. The Paulists first took spiritual care of the Catholic community at Newman Hall-Holy Spirit since 1907.
“I thought the Paulists at Berkeley were intelligent men who were good preachers,” recalled Mr. Tran. “Getting to know them more, I was attracted to the mission of evangelization – making America Catholic. And in order for us to be effective evangelizers to America, we also have to do reconciliation work which is an aspect of the Paulist mission that is very essential to the Catholic Church in the United States today.”
And now that he is ordained, Father Tran said he is enthusiastic about entering full-time ministry, especially celebrating Mass.
“I also look forward to presiding at all the other sacraments such as hearing confessions and presiding at weddings and funerals,” he said. “I think it will be an awesome as well as humbling experience. I am passionate and energetic about the Paulist mission and giving the Word a voice today. It’s a wonderful time in the world to be preaching the Gospel because it’s so necessary and relevant. There are a lot of spiritual seekers looking for great meaning in life, and I think the church has something amazing to offer to those people. Whatever the form of ministries, I hope to always be fulfilling the Paulist mission in the modern world.”