Good shepherds — protectors of the flock.
Four men achieved that sacred status when they were ordained as priests for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange before more than 1,800 people, including most priests from throughout O.C., at s a momentous ordination Mass at Saint Columban Church in Garden Grove on Saturday, June 11.
The Most Rev. Kevin W. Vann, bishop of Orange, served as ordaining prelate during the 2 hour ceremony, which was punctuated at times by loud applause and capped, after Communion, by a stunning rendition by the Diocesan Choir and Christ Cathedral Brass and Timpani of Mozart’s “Ave Verum,” a motet (a short piece of sacred choral music) that is considered one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written.
Vann was joined by concelebrating Bishops Tod Brown and Dominic Mai Luong in a ceremony that included ancient church traditions such as the laying on of hands and prayer of consecration.
The more than 150 priests in attendance took turns in the laying on of hands ritual, touching the heads of the new priests — Brandon Long Dang, David Otto, Nicolaus Duy Thai and Quyen Van Truong — in a sign of invoking the Holy Spirit to come down upon them and give them their sacred character.
Truong’s parents received loud applause when Bishop Vann noted that they had traveled for the first time to the U.S. from Vietnam to attend their son’s ordination.
The readings were in Spanish (the first, Isaiah 61:1-3, is about bringing glad tidings to the lowly), Vietnamese (Acts 20: 17-18, 28-32, 26, about serving as overseers of the flock), and English (the Gospel, John 10: 11-16, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”)
In his homily, Bishop Vann told Dang, Otto, Thai and Truong, “(As priests) of Jesus Christ, your ministry needs to be one constantly supported by a daily dialogue in many ways with you and the Lord, and then with his people.”
MEET THE FOUR NEW PRIESTS
Fr. Brandon Dang
- Assignment: Our Lady Queen of Angels, Newport Beach
- Graduated from St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park
- Born in Torrance in 1988 to Jonathan and Cynthia Dang, Dang grew up in Aliso Viejo.
His mother grew up Catholic but didn’t go to church much after coming to the U.S. from Vietnam. But, says Dang, “God led her back to the church years later and moved her to raise my brother and I as Catholics.”
Dang, 28, said serving as an altar boy at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Laguna Woods was one of the things that helped him grow in his faith.
Dang attended Irvine Valley College, and after transferring to Cal State Long Beach he attended a vocations retreat with members of the youth group he was teaching. Dang said that experience got him “hooked” on becoming a priest.
Fr. David Otto
- Assignment: St. Joseph Church, Santa Ana
- Graduated from St. John’s Seminary, Camarillo
- Otto was born and raised in Westminster and is a lifelong Catholic.
- “I have always felt a gentle tug of being called to the priesthood, but never acted upon it (earlier),” Otto says. “I am a later vocation, and I feel that this will help me in future ministry since I have plenty of life experience.”
Otto attended Golden West College and, later, Cal State Long Beach, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history. During college, he worked full time at Vons in the meat department.
Otto had been dating a woman for six years and planning on getting married but, as he said, “God had other plans for me.”
Fr. Nicolaus Thai
- Assignment: Santa Clara de Asis, Yorba Linda (he will return to Rome in September to finish the Licentiate program)
- Graduated from the Pontifical North American College in Rome
- A native of Saigon, Thai, 32, grew up in a Catholic family. He has an older and a younger sister. He says he slowly began to experience the vocation to the Catholic priesthood when he was an altar server prior to his family immigrating to the U.S. in 2001.
Thai’s family settled in Fountain Valley and he graduated from Los Amigos High School in 2002. He attended Orange Coast College and Cal Poly Pomona and earned a master’s degree in applied physics from Cal State Long Beach in 2009. While working on his master’s thesis, he applied to the Diocese of Orange.
Before attending the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Thai was a seminarian at St. Patrick’s Seminary and University in Menlo Park.
Fr. Quyen Truong
- Assignment: St. Nicholas Catholic Church, Laguna Woods
- Graduated from St. Patrick’s Seminary, Menlo Park
- Truong was born and raised in Vietnam, the second youngest in a family of six kids. During his middle and high school years, he served as an altar server, a sacristan, and a catechist — experiences that led him to be called into the priesthood.
However, Truong didn’t commit to the priesthood until he was in college when he worked with various charities, reaching out to serve the less fortunate, including the poor in remote villages, AIDS patients, the homeless and leprosy patients.
At the end of 2008, Truong came to the United States to pursue his priestly formation. He completed pre-theology studies at Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon. He began his formation at Saint Patrick’s Seminary in 2011 and was ordained a deacon in 2015.
“I look forward to serving as a priest of Jesus Christ,” Truong said. “I am grateful for the prayers and support from the bishops, priests and all God’s people in the Diocese of Orange. Their prayers and support have given me strength on my path to the priesthood.”