by Ethan Gibbs
Before Thanksgiving Break, St. John Bosco welcomed Father Nguyen Vien to campus to share valuable insight.
Father Vien has faced many challenges when trying to get young people involved in the faith. Due to new lifestyles and options, fewer and fewer young men are being involved with the faith and God.
The number of Priests and Brothers in the Church is decreasing. Since 2017, there has been a decline in the number of members of the Church. The Salesians of Don Bosco USA West have seen very few new vocations for many years now.
Another issue that Father Vien has observed is social media. Although he believes that it can be beneficial and helpful, it can also be a distraction to life in front of you.
“Social media is not bad until we get addicted to it, so we do not have time for God or even people who are just next to us, our friends, and family members,” said Father Vien.
When one decides to become a priest or a brother, there are qualities that are sought after in recruiting to the vocation. Father Vien made sure vocation is a gift from God for the Salesians of Don Bosco and the Church. The qualities he looks for in someone generally consist of a good heart and the desire to serve others, a sense of prayer life, willingness to learn, adequate intellectual ability, and healthy relationships, including good friends.
The journey to becoming a priest or brother begins with a personal encounter with God’s love and an invitation to serve others in this unique way. The process could take anywhere from a few months to a few years.
Before he became a priest, Father Vien observed the people already in the community in order to understand what it would truly be like. He feels that seeing the way people treat one another and the love and respect they have inspired him and he wanted to join them.
“They always seemed happy and at peace. Also, I liked how they were always thinking for young people, especially the poor ones,” said Father Vien.
Although Father Vien loves what he does there are difficulties and challenges he has to face. For Father Vien, the hardest challenge he has to overcome is when he has to listen to someone struggling and he can not help them. He has to trust in God to help them in the ways that he himself could not. He also learned how to have a balance between administration and his pastoral presence.
“It is just so beautiful to see young people growing up, being successful, and becoming good people,” said Father Vien.
Father Vien lives on campus in the south hall. He joins the Salesian community at the school every day for prayer, mass, and dinner.
Father Vien’s favorite part about becoming a Father is celebrating Eucharist, and other sacraments, especially the sacrament of reconciliation, are his favorite. He experienced humility and love through these moments, and they helped him to understand that God alone can make miracles happen when people are most vulnerable. For Father Vien, those moments where God and humans are so close to one another are the most meaningful.
Father Vien came to campus last week to inform students about the vocation of the religious life led by priests and brothers. Brother Kris who is also a teacher at Bosco knows very much about the background of Father Vien. Brother Kris feels as though Father Vien is a friendly and very open man. He spoke to the fact that he is down to earth and grounded. Father Vien is an extrovert, and he tends to be shy but once you get to know him he’s very open. Father Vien started his religious life in Vietnam and he became a Salesian in Vietnam. His family moved to the United States and he had his final vow here.
People that inspired Father Vien are his mother who was always encouraging him to be a good Christian for himself and the people around him. Another person was his older friend who has been with him since he was in high school. His friend joined the Salesians of Don Bosco first and then introduced Father Vien to them later.