New priest comes home to serve

Former altar server comes home to serve: Rev. Huy H. Nguyen with Rev. Dan Finn, pastor of St. Mark's Parish. Nguyen was ordained on May 23 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Photo by Patrick O'ConnorFormer altar server comes home to serve: Rev. Huy H. Nguyen with Rev. Dan Finn, pastor of St. Mark's Parish. Nguyen was ordained on May 23 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Photo by Patrick O'ConnorDorchester’s newest Catholic priest is an immigrant from Vietnam who grew up serving as an altar boy at St. Peter’s and lived in the shadows of St. Margaret’s tower in his first days in America.

Rev. Huy H. Nguyen, 30, was one of six men ordained last Saturday by Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley during a Mass in the South End. He will begin his priestly duties on June 2 at Dorchester new “tri-parish,” which includes Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, St. Peter’s and Holy Family parishes.

Nguyen is one of eight children who accompanied their parents Vinh and Hang (Pham) Nguyen to the US in 1988. He is a product of the Boston public system, attending Jackson Mann Elementary in Allston and Boston Technical School of Math and Science (now the John D. O’Bryant) in Roxbury. After graduating with an engineering degree from UMass-Amherst, he worked for a time at Boston University before he entered St. John Seminary six years ago.

Nguyen said he had long considered entering the priesthood, but came to the vocation after much prayer and some fear.
“We had a big Vietnamese community at St. Peter’s and my aunt, whenever I’d come over to her house, she would ask me to join the priesthood. They saw something in me I contemplated it, it always in the back of my mind,” Nguyen said this week.

“I was afraid, I kept delaying. Finally, one day, I said, ‘I have to do it or I will regret it.’ God finally gave me the courage to say ‘yes’.”

Nguyen was joined at Saturday’s liturgy by his parents and extended family, all of whom he says have been very supportive of his decision.

“In my country, we have such high faith. It’s always been like that. People have such high regard for priests, great respect.”

Nguyen will no doubt minister to the neighborhood’s large Vietnamese Catholic community, now mainly centered at Blessed Mother Teresa on Columbia Road and St. Ambrose in Fields Corner. He will work under Fr. Jack Ahern, who has recently begun his own assignment as pastor of the tri-parish.

Nguyen says that he hopes to be “ a priest for the entire Archdiocese of Boston.”

“My mission in Dorchester is to bring them back to God and seek Christ through my preaching the Gospel. My ultimate goal is [to minister] to every Cathoilic and Christian in Dorchester.”