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Written by Fr. Mark Weber; Photos: Theresa Carson
Before the final blessing of the ordination Mass, the newly ordained priests Carl Gales and Derek Nguyen each received a “mission cross” as a send-off to their first assignments in Chicago and Ecuador, respectively. The mission cross is a long-standing SVD tradition, recognizing that now that their initial formation is completed, they must take up their crosses and follow Jesus to their first assignments.
Their paths to the religious life and priesthood could not be more diverse.
Father Nguyen, who was born in Malaysian to Vietnamese parents, grew up in California. He entered Divine Word College in Epworth, Iowa, after high school graduation and earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.
Father Gales, who was born in Baltimore, was a musical prodigy. In his youth, he performed as a concert pianist with the Phoenix Symphony, the National Czech Symphony Orchestra in Prague and at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Before he discovered Catholicism, he was part of Prayer Assembly Church of God in Christ, a charismatic Protestant church.
We hope and pray that they are ready to face the challenges and the joys of missionary life! As one of their formators the past two years, I have been privileged to have witnessed their growth and development leading up to this point. They both not only had to study theology, but also engage in practical ministry throughout their time in formation. They each had an internship in missionary life through our Cross-Cultural Training program, Carl in the Congo and Derek in Mexico. They have experienced the blessings and the struggles of forming an intercultural community during their years in formation.
Are they are ready for their first assignments? I believe they are, with God’s grace and our support!
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