By Jessica Easthope
Most people hate change, but Deacon Chin Nguyen’s life has been defined by it. He’s never resisted it or complained. He’s embraced it and always trusted in God’s plan.
“I believe in God’s call and my parents always prayed for us to become good Catholics,” he said.
Growing up in northern Vietnam, Deacon Chin is the second youngest of 10 children. His name means nine in Vietnamese. As a young kid, his uncle who is a priest in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, went back to Vietnam for a visit. Life as he knew it would never be the same.
“My uncle, who is a priest in Long Island, he said if we stayed in the north, there would be no education at all and he saw that, so he sent us to the south,” Deacon Chin said.
The four youngest children in his family left their parents to live with an aunt in southern Vietnam. It was a great opportunity that came with a harsh reality.
“From the north to the south, we don’t fly like over here, so we visited my parents every three years and there were no cell phones,” he said.
But his love of God blossomed out of hardship – faith soon became his family’s legacy. The four siblings who made that move as children grew to dedicate their lives to Christ.
“My brother was the first one to join the seminary in Ho Chi Minh city, in Saigon now, and my other brother joined another local order in Vietnam,” said Deacon Chin.
At Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Astoria, Queens, Deacon Chin has made a deep connection with parishioners. He learned how to speak their language – literally.
“I can do the Italian reading for the Mass, Spanish I can do the reading and share a homily, Chinese I can do some short conversation,” he said.
He’s trying to blend in with the community around him as he prepares for his life’s mission.
“In Brooklyn, it’s what we call a melting pot,” he said. “So I see the need to understand people more to really serve them effectively.”
Deacon Chin is still practicing, getting better every day, but no matter how fluent he becomes in Italian, Spanish or Chinese, God’s language is universal.