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​New rector told appointment a tribute and recognition, but also a responsibility

September 23, 2019 | posted by Today's Catholic newspaper

Topics: Vocations

New rector told appointment a tribute and recognition, but also a responsibility

Father Hy Nguyen, PSS, was formally installed as the new rector of Assumption Seminary Sept. 9 in a Mass at Our Lady’s Chapel with Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS.

“I thank you, Father Hy, in a very particular way because you have said yes to this calling and you have embraced this responsibility for the formation of priests for our Church,” the archbishop said gratefully to the new rector. “This appointment is both a tribute to you, a recognition of your many gifts for leadership and formation, but also it is a responsibility laid upon your shoulders.”

Archbishop Gustavo assured Father Hy that he did not have to carry this burden alone, but that together with the faculty, Auxiliary Bishop Michael Boulette, himself, and the people of the archdiocese, it will be carried together. He also cited the assistance of Mexican American Catholic College, the Oblate School of Theology, and the other institutions with which Assumption cooperates so closely.

“You will find, Father Hy, that we approach this great work of formation as a family, and never alone,” said the Missionary of the Holy Spirit.

The San Antonio prelate said it was a special blessing to celebrate the installation on the Memorial of St. Peter Claver. He called St. Peter, known as “a slave to the slaves,” an incredible model of priestly dedication, self-emptying service, and missionary availability. Leaving his native Catalonia in Spain, learning his theology in Mallorca, and then arriving in Cartagena, he ministered for over 30 years to the slaves arriving by boat at that port. Catechizing them, baptizing them, and defending their rights as human beings, Peter Claver spent himself completely until he died 1654.

“We need to form priests with hearts like St. Peter Claver, who will empty themselves in love and service for the People of God — even the most lowly of God’s people,” the archbishop emphasized. “I ask you, Father Hy, to keep this day and St. Peter Claver in mind as you discharge your duties.”

In the day’s Gospel reading, Jesus commanded the man with the withered hand: “stretch out your hand!” Archbishop Gustavo explained that it was a rather bold thing to say to someone who was suffering such a disability, and doubly bold because Jesus commanded him to do this on the Sabbath day and in front of the scribes and Pharisees at the Synagogue. “The scribes and the Pharisees may or may not have been good men — we don’t honestly know — but they represented maintaining the status quo. They represented the convention of the day,” he continued. “They neither wanted Jesus to speak nor to act, because he was changing things! This was not only an affront to their authority as leaders in the community, but also a disruption of the normal order.”

The archbishop described how Peter Claver must have experienced something similar. Slave traders wanted their injustices to be tolerated as normal, and the Spanish authorities in Cartagena wanted to be respected, but Peter Claver’s heart was with the gospel, just as Jesus’ heart was with the Father. “Sometimes faith calls us to disrupt the normal situation because it is simply wrong! It was wrong for the man with the withered hand to have to continue enduring his suffering out of deference to the ‘normal,” he added. “It was wrong for the situation of slavery to be accepted as ‘normal’ in the time of St. Peter Claver. And it is wrong now for the church’s voice of faith to be relegated to the sidelines of society, and for this society to tolerate great injustices and indignities against the value of the human person.”

Archbishop Gustavo told Father Hy that, just as young Peter Claver prepared at the seminary in Mallorca for his mission, so now Assumption Seminary must prepare seminarians of today for their great mission. “We do, indeed, live in missionary times,” he acknowledged. “So, Father Hy, please prepare these men to accept the gospel as their norm, service to the People of God as their means, and a spirit of self-emptying love as their way of life.”