During a tri-lingual liturgy of English, Vietnamese and Spanish, Luis Fernando Orozco Cardona and Joseph Pham Vu professed their first vows with the Priests of the Sacred Heart on August 15th at Sacred Heart Monastery/School of Theology. They are the newest members of the U.S. Province.
“Professing vows with the SCJs is important to me because I believe it is my response to God’s call to share my life with this specific community,” said Frater Joseph. “By professing, I have said that I believe I belong here, and that’s saying a lot.”
Frater Joseph, 24, did his candidacy and novitiate right in his hometown of Chicago. He graduated from St. Xavier University last year with two bachelor degrees: one in philosophy and one in mathematics. A philosophical mathematician.
During his undergraduate studies, Frater Joseph worked at St. Henry parish in Chicago as a youth group coordinator and in the CCD program. For seven years he was also a part of the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Society.
“I’ve been helping in the Vietnamese congregation for the past 12 years; I lend a hand at the church whenever it’s needed,” he said. Although he is a Chicago native, his family background is Vietnamese.
Frater Joseph came to know the SCJs through Fr. Francis Vu Tran, SCJ, who did ministry with the youth group, just as Frater Joseph does now.
“Being an SCJ only has meaning once I have taken ownership of it,” said Frater Joseph. “This year [novitiate] has only given me a tiny glimpse into the SCJs; it’ll take me a lifetime to understand what being an SCJ is all about.”
Easter reflection leads to vows
“You can just call me Fernando,” said Frater Luis Fernando Orozco Cardona, 35. Born in Medellin, Colombia, Frater Fernando comes from a large Catholic family of nine children. “My elementary education was in a public school and I went to a minor seminary for high school. College was at a pontifical university, where I earned my degree in philosophy,” he said.
For five years he taught ethics and philosophy in high school and at the university where he earned his own degree. “During my last two years in Colombia, before I came to the United States, I worked as Secretary of Education in my hometown,” he said.
It was a visit with Fr. Paul Grizzelle Reid, SCJ, who was in Colombia when serving as director of the ESL (English as a Second Language) program, that lead to Frater Fernando’s studies in the United States. Wanting to learn more about the Priests of the Sacred Heart, he entered the ESL program in 2006. In 2007 he was accepted as a candidate and moved to the Dehon Formation Community in Chicago. Until his novitiate year he was a student at Catholic Theological Union.
“As a novice I tried to discern God’s will in my life as Fr. Dehon did,” said Fernando. “This year as a novice has been a blessing from God because I really see and feel how he is present in my life and my vocation.”
“During this year’s Easter celebration I prayed over this personal question: ‘What does it mean to take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience with the Priests of the Sacred Heart?’” said Frater Fernando. “Part of the answer came from the Easter celebration: ‘Because Jesus Christ died and rose again to give me life.’
“That is the foundation of my faith and the reason for my vows. I believe that faith is an important element when I talk about vocation, especially my vocation to religious life. Because I believe that Jesus loved me and gave his life for me, so I give, offer, consecrate, and unite my life to his life in the service of God’s people just as Fr. Dehon understood his own vocation and his own mission in the world and in the Church.”
Fraters Joseph and Fernando will continue their studies in Chicago as a part of the Dehon Formation Community.
Click here to view photos from the ceremony.