Long Hoang Nguyen was called in to see his bishop in Vietnam eight years ago.
The Bishop told him he wanted him to prepare for priesthood in England, with a view to working there. ‘I had never thought that might happen to me’ he said. Long came to Oscott College for his studies and lived in Our Lady of the Assumption in Maryvale, Kingstanding in his holidays. He was ordained deacon in June 2013 and his mother came to Oscott for the ceremony. It was her first time away from Vietnam. Long came to St Joseph’s in Malvern as a deacon in preparation for his ordination as a priest.
The ordination was on 19 March, the parish feast day and the forty-eighth anniversary of Mgr Patrick Kilgarriff, the parish priest. There were over seventy priests and Bishop Philip Pargeter assisting Archbishop Bernard. The lovely simple parish church was filled with flowers and an overflowing congregation squeezed in. People came from St Patrick’s; Wolverhampton; Our Lady’s Stourbridge and St Thomas More in Sheldon where Long had served during his training. The staff and students from the seminary were there too, as well as young priests from other dioceses who had trained with him. Many members of the Vietnamese community travelled great distances to be there. Archbishop Bernard drew out the qualities of Joseph of Nazareth the carpenter and commended him to the young priest as an example of humble, faithful service. He and all the priests present laid their hands on the deacon and invoked the Holy Spirit. The ordination prayer was sung and the new priest was clothed in the stole and chasuble. He was welcomed with the sign of peace by his brother priests and his hands were anointed. He then took part in the Eucharist as a priest for the first time.
For most of the parishioners of Malvern, this was the first time many of them had been to the ordination of a priest. They found it a very moving ceremony. The music was supplied by young musicians from the parish and children from St Joseph’s Primary School. A buffet was provided by parishioners in the school hall, where people could meet and talk and enjoy the hospitality.
Fr Long celebrated his first Mass on Thursday 20 at Maryvale. The following Sunday the Vietnamese Community came from all over the country to St Francis in Handsworth for a celebration in their own language. He travelled back to Vietnam to celebrate with his family and friends and he will be back in time for Holy Week in Malvern.
The parish also commissioned a sliver chalice for Fr Long from the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham It was used by the Archbishop at the ordination Mass.