In 2018, Frater Duy Henry Minh Bùi Nguyễn, SCJ, professed his first vows as a member of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians). However, “first vows” are just that, an initial short-term commitment that needs to be renewed yearly.
On January 8, Frater Henry, 32, made his PERPETUAL Profession of Vows, a lifelong commitment to be an SCJ. A Dehonian. A Priest of the Sacred Heart. And he did so in the midst of one of the most significant COVID surges in the United States.
“Every time my phone dinged this week, it seemed like it was another cancellation,” said Frater Henry in his closing words at ceremony. Several friends, family, SCJs and staff were sidelined with COVID, unable to attend Frater Henry’s ceremony. “But I felt all of your support.” Many viewed the Mass via livestream.
The main celebrant of the Final Vows Mass was Fr. Quang Nguyen, SCJ, vice provincial superior and province vocation director. Fr. Ed Kilianski, SCJ, received Frater Henry’s vows, one of his last official duties as provincial superior before completing his term on February 2.
Fr. Jan de Jong, SCJ, Frater Henry’s Final Vows director, gave the homily, during which he noted the significance of holding the Final Vows Mass in the main chapel at Sacred Heart Monastery / Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology. “This is a historical place for the Priests of the Sacred Heart and it continues to play an important role in the life of the province,” said Fr. Jan, noting that Frater Henry’s Perpetual Profession of Vows is also an important piece of the history and life of the province.
Seminary classmates, fellow members of the formation community, SCJs and friends from around the country were a part of Frater Henry’s celebration. It was not only a bilingual moment of prayer, but trilingual, reflecting Frater Henry’s Vietnamese family background, his months of pastoral ministry in Ecuador, and his American heritage. At the end of the Mass, Frater Henry shared his thanks in English, Vietnamese and Spanish.
In his own words of thanks, Fr. Ed Kilianski extended his gratitude to Frater Henry’s family, especially his parents. “Without you, Henry would have no vocation,” he said to them. “Your faith brought him to the SCJs. Thank you for that gift.”
In the last days before his Perpetual Profession, Frater Henry wrote the following reflection:
Frater Henry writes…
As I prepared for my perpetual vows – to say Ecce Venio – I reflected on my life from the moment I entered formation until now and I give thanks to God for all that I have.
For six months I was in the Final Vows program with Fr. Jan de Jong, SCJ (program director). He challenged me, asking me why I wanted to commit myself to being an SCJ for life. I took a deep look at the SCJs’ Rule of Life – our Constitutions – and it renewed my love for our Dehonian spirituality, of living our life as a “one never-ending Mass” (Cst 5). Not only are SCJs called to be centered in the Eucharist but they are also called to go out into ministry with the poor, the lowly, and the outcast, just as Jesus did (Cst 18).
I have hope for the future as an SCJ. By saying, “Here I am, Lord; I have come to do your will,” I say that I trust in God and God’s will for me. The songs, readings, and prayers of the Perpetual Profession Mass confirmed this oblation of my life to God, in trusting in the Heart of Jesus. It is because Jesus did it first so that I might follow him closely.
I give thanks to God for my SCJ confreres, my family, friends, and all those who have supported me on my journey. I am not sure where I’ll be after I graduate from Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology this May, but I trust that God will place me where I need to be. I am excited to see what will be in store for me next.
Vivat Cor Jesu!