Queens Priest Supports Young Men Discerning a Call, Inspires Vocations

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Media, Queens, NY

By Jessica Easthope

Msgr. Cuong Pham has prepared for Mass thousands of times, and it’s always a moment to teach and encourage.

“You know, you have to spend time. You have to talk to the young people. And that’s how it begins,” Msgr. Pham said.

Discerning a call from God can take time, but Msgr. Pham’s patience never runs out when it comes to nurturing vocations.

He said there’s nothing more important to the life of the Church.

“People here come up to me all the time, Monsignor, wouldn’t it be so wonderful to have someone who comes and celebrates Mass in Spanish for us? For example. And I would say, where would the priest come from? They come from families. Send me your sons. And you will have your own native priests. You see.”

Ordained in 2001, Msgr. Pham became part of the Vietnamese tradition of a spiritual family, gaining a spiritual father and brothers.

Now the pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Astoria, he has seven spiritual sons of his own, adopting his first while on assignment at the Vatican.

“A priest literally would become a mentor, a friend, a member of the young man’s family, and would inspire that person and support that person throughout the whole discernment process,” Msgr. Pham said. “I feel that nothing can beat the closeness of a priest to another person.”

As priestly vocations decline in the United States, Msgr. Pham says that personal support and friendship are what’s missing.

“And that’s why I see my role as the spiritual father being more important in this day and age and in our current society here, where young men need strong support,” Msgr. Pham said. “They need a good role model. They need someone who accompanies, supports, reminds them, encourages them, and who is there for them. Someone that they can fall back on when there is an issue. And I make time for that because it is an investment of time and commitment and relationship. So you have to be very dedicated, and you have to be passionate about your own vocation, because if you’re not passionate about your own vocation, you won’t inspire anybody and you won’t make time.”

He’s inspired vocations all over the globe. Every summer, he hosts seminarians in his parish that has five active ethnic communities.

“I’m very available to priests. I’m very available to the seminarians,” Msgr. Pham said. “I’m very available to the young men or to anyone who’s interested in a religious and priestly vocation simply because I know that I would be able to motivate them and inspire them in ways that sometimes they don’t get from other priests.”

So every time he gives of himself to support another’s vocation, it’s because he knows it makes a difference. He himself would not be here without it.