In June, Rev. Mr. Tai Le of the Prince Albert Diocese was ordained to the priesthood. He was subsidized by our Bursary Fund while studying at Newman Theological College in Edmonton and attending St. Joseph’s Seminary. We rejoice with his diocese. The following article was written by Fr. Le while still a deacon.
Peace and the Hope of Christ Jesus to all!
Last year, I did an internship at St. Theresa’s in Wakaw, Sask. The idea of this pastoral year is that a seminarian, after several years of learning and discerning, will continue his formation in a parish. He is called to pay attention to doing pastoral work, to experience how what he has learned is to be lived in a parish.
How is it attractive for you in a rural area in the middle of nowhere, you might wonder, and that was initially in my mind as well before I arrived. During the internship year, I constantly asked myself, “what should I do in a new environment, especially during the pandemic?”
I was truly blessed by the people in the parish. I learned so much from working with and encountering them. What I learned most profoundly was that our Catholic faith is more fully realized when it is put into practice mode. As Catholics, our faith is twofold: the virtus fidei, the virtue of faith, and the actus fidei, the act of faith. The whole mystery of one’s faith is visible at every Mass, where we listen to the Word of God, partake in the Eucharist and are called to bring His Word to others.
At the time of Baptism, we were given faith in God by the prayer of the Church through Her ministers. That faith remains passive as virtus fidei until it is unpacked as actus fidei. “The act of faith is perfected and formed by charity,” according to St. Thomas Aquinas. That is why we are called to put that virtue of faith into practice, first by opening ourselves to God and then by advocating for justice by our action in helping the poor and vulnerable. These aspects of faith are what I experienced in my internship. I saw how my faith is lived by helping others. I invite each of you to reflect on how we put our faith into its actus fidei mode.
At the end of the internship year, with the help of God, I was ordained to the deaconate by Bishop Emeritus Albert Thévenot. Back at St. Joseph’s Seminary, I continue to learn and improve in my formation as a Deacon. Besides studying at the seminary, I minister at St. John the Evangelist Parish. Everything has been wonderful and fruitful.
Recently, I received a letter from Bishop Stephen Hero, informing me that I’ve been called to the priesthood. What a joyful, and at the same time, humbling experience! I recalled a retreat that I did last April. The retreat director asked me, “do you judge yourself worthy to be ordained?” This question was and is profound for me. And I think all of us, either lay or ordained, need to ponder the question, “do we judge ourselves worthy of God’s grace and love?”
For my part, I told the retreat director, “I don’t think I’m worthy to be ordained, since I’m not there yet and have made a lot of mistakes.” His response was tremendously inspirational and encouraging. He said with a confident tone, “that is the sign for you to be ordained. Indeed, we are not worthy of God’s grace, none of us is, but God helps you and sustains you.” I was overwhelmingly moved and encouraged. Truly, I’m not perfect and am still a sinner. It is God who creates, saves, and sustains, and who will give me the strength needed for my vocation. It is God who fulfills and transforms my imperfection.
Ordination is the door that brings me greater realization of what it means to serve the People of God. Ultimately, it is God’s manifested grace upon my life that calls me to bring Christ to my brothers and sisters – to faithfully follow the Light of Christ and share that Light with those whose care is entrusted to me.
God’s unfailing grace is prevalent. He always has His way to lead us to greater charity through means of grace, suffering, and joy. St. Paul says, “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Although the Church has suffered from many ‘diseases,’ there have been many faithful Catholics helping to bring God to those who are shut- in because of the pandemic. This witness has strengthened my faith. Even though it seems dark in the world, if we look around us, there is light. That is the Light of Christ shining through the good works of His believers, who have done much to help brighten our world of darkness.
Each of us is called to be a servant to others because God says, “before I formed you in the womb, I knew you and before you were born, I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jer 1:5).
Despite our different callings, we are all called to fulfill our baptismal functions, to be priests, to offer prayers and sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ, to be prophets speaking the Word to others, and to lead others to God. Let us go now and profess our Lord to the world!
As I am approaching ordination to the presbyterate, please kindly keep me in your prayers!