“Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life”
Frater Paul Phong Hoang, SCJ, makes perpetual profession
Congratulations to Frater Paul Phong Hoang, SCJ, who made his perpetual profession of vows with the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians) this evening, May 11. The ceremony took place at Sacred Heart Monastery / Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology. Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, provincial superior, received Frater Paul’s vows. Fr. John Czyzynski, SCJ, was Fra. Paul’s final vows director.
Fra. Paul, who turned 31 just two days before his perpetual profession, is originally from Ha Tien, Kien Giang, Vietnam. “It is a culturally diverse town of Cambodian, Chinese, and Vietnamese heritage,” he said. “Looking back, going from where I was to where I am now is nothing short of a miracle. I believe that God had a plan for me and was involved throughout my journey. I am forever grateful for the SCJs and our culturally diverse community.”
His family immigrated to the United States in 2007 and settled in Houston, Texas. Before following his vocation to religious life, he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Houston. Fra. Paul learned about the Dehonians through a member of his family and spent time learning about the community through Come and See weekends.
“I was attracted to the SCJs’ simplicity, diversity and community life,” he said. Fra. Paul professed his first vows in 2018. He did his pastoral year in Lower Brule, SD, and has been involved in a variety of other province ministries. Fra. Paul is scheduled to complete his M.Div. at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in December, 2023.
“My journey of faith is an existential one,” said Fra. Paul. “I was haunted by the idea of God and attracted to the love of Christ.
“Psalms 139 says: ‘Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence… even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.’”
Fra. Paul continues, saying that he “was closer to Buddhism and ancestor veneration in my youth back in Vietnam. Before seminary, I experimented with a few different Christian denominations. Captivated by philosophy, at some point, I wanted to be the master of my own ethics, God was an obstacle to my false conception of freedom. But in the end, I realize that only Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
“The confession of St. Peter rang loud and clear whenever I thought of leaving the seminary, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life’ (John 6:68).”
“I’ve found my life’s meaning ultimately in Christ, in service, and self-denial. I want to live these principles through the Dehonian charism and way of life. This is why I requested to make final vows.”