June 23, 2024

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we gather on this Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time, the Scriptures from today’s Mass deliver a profound message of hope, resonating deeply with my own journey through life’s tempests and the unwavering presence of God.

Growing up amidst the chaos of the Vietnam War, facing its traumatic aftermath, and resettling in the United States as a teenager, I have encountered many hardships that tested my faith. As your priest, I am privileged to accompany you through your own trials—be it poverty, illness, distress, or other challenges. Daily, people in profound need seek solace and hope within our Church, and I find myself deeply engaged, striving to offer compassion and empathy, even amidst my own burdens.

Yet, amid these personal and communal challenges, the truth that only God can calm life’s storms remains evident. Our faith, tested in moments of vulnerability, emerges stronger. Like the disciples on the Sea of Galilee, panicked amidst a violent storm, I too have felt the Lord’s reassuring presence when most needed. Jesus’ calming presence reminds us that even amidst seemingly insurmountable problems, He is with us—often in quiet whispers, extended hands, promises of prayer, or gestures of support.

This Sunday’s Gospel illuminates our human experience of navigating stormy times—a call to lean on Christ not only in crises but in every moment of our lives. Reflect on your own experiences and recognize where Christ has been present. Recall those instances when you reached out in panic, feeling His calming presence just as despair seemed to take hold. Jesus’ calming of the turbulent sea is not just symbolic; it’s a promise of His control over life’s chaos, a lesson that even when our faith wavers, His immediate response to our cries assures us of His guidance to safety.

Our hope amidst life’s storms lies in trusting Jesus, listening attentively for His gentle whisper, assured that He is always near. Christ is our anchor, and our faith in Him, alongside the love and support of our Church community, will guide us through any tempest.

I am filled with profound gratitude to God that, despite the storms I’ve faced, none have dimmed my positive outlook on life or my joyful spirit. On the contrary, these trials have strengthened my faith that Christ journeys with me, guiding me through tumultuous waters.

In closing, I wish to share with you the joyous news that I recently had the privilege to concelebrate the Mass of Thanksgiving with newly ordained Father Joseph V. Nguyen “JV” in North Vietnam. It was a celebration marked by profound joy and moving testimonies of faith, reminding us of the enduring power of God’s presence in our lives. Like me, this young priest has been through so many hardships in life, but they have only served to strengthen his religious commitment. His story is an inspiring illustration of Jesus’ transforming power in our lives, showing us that even amidst life’s greatest challenges, God’s grace sustains and empowers us.

Additionally, having spent a few days in Hanoi, North Vietnam, I will now journey to Saigon, South Vietnam, to be present at my spiritual son’s Mass of Thanksgiving, Father Joseph C. Le. This part of the trip allows me to visit my former parish where I was born and raised, and to spend time with my extended family. Rest assured that I will always remember you at the Altar each day.

In prayerful solidarity,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

June 16, 2024

Dear parishioners,

Greetings and peace to you from Vietnam, my homeland!

As we celebrate Father’s Day this weekend, I wish to reflect on the beauty of fatherhood. A young boy once said, “It’s just like Mother’s Day, except you don’t spend as much on the present.” While Father’s Day may not evoke the same sentimentality, its significance is profound.

Father’s Day is an opportunity to honor not just our biological fathers but all those who have embraced the role of fatherhood through personal affiliation. These include stepfathers, foster fathers, godfathers, spiritual fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and other father figures who nurture and guide us. Each of them mirrors God’s love and care for us uniquely.

For the past three years since my dad’s passing, Father’s Day has been challenging. Though he is physically absent, his influence remains strong. His words, faith, and way of life continue to guide me, showing that a father’s love extends beyond physical presence, leaving an indelible mark on his children.

Beyond my dad, many men have been like fathers to me, including priests who have cared for me spiritually throughout my life. These remarkable individuals have imparted lessons and inspirations that continue to shape who I am.

I acknowledge that not everyone has experienced a father figure. Some may have missed out on a father’s presence altogether. However, this does not diminish the profound essence of fatherhood, as intended by God. In a world experiencing a crisis of fatherhood, we need fathers to embrace this calling.

As a priest, I may not have biological children, but I have numerous spiritual children who call me “Father.” Among them are young priests and seminarians I have adopted as my “spiritual sons” over the years. I feel a particular responsibility to support and inspire them in their vocations. Caring for their well-being brings me immense joy, similar to a father’s experience with his own children. Though my spiritual sons are now spread across different states and continents, our relationship demonstrates that fatherhood can extend to the spiritual realm, where one generates and regenerates life in a special way.

On this Father’s Day, let us express our gratitude for the fathers in our lives. Let us honor them for their love, sacrifice, and unwavering presence. For those who have lost fathers or faced difficult relationships, find solace in knowing our heavenly Father, the epitome of fatherhood, is always there for us. His love knows no bounds, His care is unwavering, and His presence is everlasting.

From our earthly fathers to our spiritual Father, let us draw strength and inspiration as we strive to embody the beauty of fatherhood in our own lives.

Wishing you all a joyous Father’s Day!

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

June 9, 2024

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

With great joy, I share the extraordinary news from our parish. Last Saturday, June 1, transitional Deacon Randy Nguyen, a cherished son of our parish and my spiritual son, was ordained a priest by Bishop Robert Brennan at St. Joseph’s Co-Cathedral in Brooklyn. The following day, Father Randy celebrated his First Mass of Thanksgiving at our parish. The Mass was a beautiful and deeply moving ceremony, followed by an uplifting celebration. It was a day filled with grace and joy. My heartfelt thanks go to all who contributed to the event. As Bishop Ray Chappetto and Bishop Paul Sanchez have observed, our parish truly shines when we unite in faith and love.

I am thrilled to announce that Father Randy has been assigned to St. Patrick’s Church in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn for five years. We were honored to have his new pastor, Father Brian P. Dowd; our former pastor Msgr. Sean G. Ogle; and about forty priests concelebrating at his Mass of Thanksgiving. We wish Father Dowd and the St. Patrick’s Church community abundant blessings as they welcome Father Randy into their parish family. Rest assured, Father Randy will visit us whenever possible, so we may continue to benefit from his presence and ministry.

In addition, I am overjoyed to share that another spiritual son of mine, Joseph Cong Le, was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, also last Saturday. I have supported Father Joseph’s vocation since his seminary days at St. John’s University in Queens. This past weekend was uniquely special for me, seeing two of my spiritual sons ordained as priests. Although I could not attend Father Joseph’s Ordination and First Mass in Raleigh, I have promised to make it up by joining him for another Mass of Thanksgiving this weekend in his Diocese.

Moreover, a dear friend of our parish, JV Vien Nguyen, was also ordained a priest in the Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania, on the same day and time as Fathers Randy and Joseph. Father JV has served our parish for two summers as a seminarian and has been an active and beloved presence, particularly among our daily Mass attendees and youth. He is now assigned to St. Catherine of Sienna’s parish in Reading, Pennsylvania. God willing, Father JV will return to visit us, allowing us to congratulate him in person.

These joyous events signify a springtime in the Church concerning priestly vocations. While many of these new priests come from Vietnam and other countries, they embody the rich diversity of our American Church. Please keep all our new priests in your prayers.

I am excited to share that I will be traveling to Vietnam for three weeks, starting next week. This trip will allow me to visit my own spiritual father in Saigon, the priest who inspired my vocation. Additionally, I will accompany our newly ordained priests as they return to celebrate their Masses of Thanksgiving with their families, most of whom could not attend their ordination here.

Entering my fourth year as your pastor, I hope you recognize how deeply priestly and religious vocations matter to me. As St. John Paul II declared, “Without priests, there would be no Eucharist!” One of the most fulfilling aspects of my ministry has been cultivating a “culture of vocation” in our parish across all ethnic communities. I dream of sending more young men into the seminary to ensure a bright future for our Church. I cannot accomplish this alone; I need everyone to join me in this crucial task.

Until we meet again in three weeks, know that you will be in my prayers, especially at the tombs of the Vietnamese Martyrs in North Vietnam, where four of my ancestors witnessed to Christ unto death, seeding a strong Catholic faith in my native land.

Peace in Christ,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

June 2, 2024

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Each June, the Church celebrates the Month of the Sacred Heart, honoring Jesus’ Heart through liturgy, prayers, devotions, and acts of consecration. The Sacred Heart draws us into God’s infinite love and urges us to manifest that love in our world. In today’s challenging times, marked by the ongoing effects of social unrest, violence, individualism, and threats to our faith, such devotion becomes even more crucial. The Sacred Heart symbolizes steadfast, faithful, and life-giving love—a love that transcends fleeting emotions and sentimentality.

The symbolism surrounding the Sacred Heart is profound and meaningful. The flames that envelop the Heart symbolize the glorious brilliance of Jesus’ love, illuminating a world obscured by darkness and sin, and awaiting ignition through the fire of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, the crown of thorns encircling the bleeding and wounded Heart serves as a poignant reminder of Jesus’ Heart pierced on the Cross (John 19:34). It also recalls the encounter between doubting Thomas and the Risen Lord who invited him to touch His wounds (John 20:24-29). Furthermore, it evokes the triumphant image of the slain yet victorious Lamb of God (Revelation 5:6). These vivid depictions reinforce the notion that Jesus’ love is not merely an abstract concept, but a genuine and unwavering commitment, even in the face of suffering. They remind us, as baptized followers of Christ, of our mission to bring this extraordinary love into the world.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart became popularized when Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690), a Visitation nun, had a personal revelation between 1673 and 1675 involving a series of mystical visions of Christ as she prayed before the Blessed Sacrament. During her visions, the Lord revealed to her the mysteries of His Sacred Heart. Given our parish’s close association with St. Margaret Mary, it is fitting that we wholeheartedly foster this devotion. I earnestly recommend that you follow St. Margaret Mary’s example by dedicating time to silent adoration before the Eucharist, meditating on the Word of God, attending Holy Mass whenever possible, and displaying an image of the Sacred Heart in your home. Consider joining us for the solemn Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament held on the first Friday of every month, both in the morning and evening.

I am happy to announce that a Solemn Mass in Honor of the Sacred Heart will take place on Friday, June 7 at our church in the evening, followed by festivity in the parish hall.  We are honored to welcome back His Excellency Paul R. Sanchez, a cherished former pastor, who will preside over this special occasion. I am also grateful that the Confraternity of the Sacred Heart, a devout and dedicated group within our Hispanic community, will sponsor this special event.

Let us stay close to the Heart of Jesus and be transformed into devoted Christians, ignited with passion to make known His mercy to the vulnerable, the isolated, the sick, the suffering, those who are marginalized or rejected.

Sincerely yours in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

May 26, 2024

Dear Parishioners,

As we gather to celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Blessed Trinity, I invite you to reflect deeply on the nature of relationships and community.

The renowned French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once famously remarked, “Hell is other people.” Many of us can relate to this sentiment at certain moments in our lives. After experiencing a series of negative interactions, we often yearn for solitude, envisioning a state of blissful isolation. However, even the most introverted among us occasionally crave human connection and companionship. Deep within, we understand that true wholeness comes from being in relationships with others. Reflecting on the happiest moments of our lives, we often find they involved some form of communion or community, a genuine connection. Even in an age marked by rampant individualism, we instinctively know that no one is an isolated island.

The Solemnity of the Trinity reminds us that this truth about human connection is even more profoundly true for God. At the core of God’s existence is a community—a communion of persons—a network of relationships. The Gospel reading today from Matthew 28:16-20 highlights the commission of the disciples by Jesus, where He commands them to baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” This directive underlines the integral relationship within the Trinity and extends it to the mission of the Church. The deep bond within the Trinity could not remain confined but was generously poured out upon us through the sending of the Holy Spirit. This divine community invites us into the essence of God’s loving nature. The community present within God is not an exclusive enclave but an inclusive one that extends an open invitation to each of us.

If God exists as a communion of love—a loving community—and we are created in God’s image, then our purpose, our vocation, is to foster communities of love that reflect God’s very essence. Our first encounter with such a loving community typically occurs within our families. We are born into families, none of which is perfect, and we continually grapple with various challenges. Yet, the family has the potential to become a loving communion that mirrors and embodies the love found within God.

Beyond the family, the Church is called to be a community of love. On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus spoke to His disciples, saying, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you… Love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus envisioned the Church as a loving community that emulates the love shared within God’s community. Although the Church, the assembly of Jesus’s followers, has often fallen short of this divine vision, the Holy Spirit continuously reminds us of Jesus’s teachings and our lofty calling. With the Spirit’s guidance, we must persist in striving to embody this calling. Each parish, as a local expression of the Church, is summoned to radiate the loving communion that resides within God.

Whenever we take action to forge a family, build a parish, or cultivate a community, we are acting in a Trinitarian manner, even if we are unaware of the Trinity’s significance in those moments. Every time we bring people together in ways that affirm and uplift them, we are embodying the spirit of the Trinity. This is the invitation and challenge presented by the Solemnity of the Trinity. Though it may initially appear distant from our everyday lives, it is, in fact, a deeply practical celebration. It reminds us of the purpose that should guide us in our day-to-day existence.

As we embark on the month of June this week, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity takes on a profound dimension. The Sacred Heart, brimming with divine love, serves as a powerful manifestation of God’s boundless love for humanity. This love is the foundation of our call to live in loving community, mirroring the divine communion of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Let us embrace this divine love and strive to create communities that reflect the heart of God.

Yours in Christ,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

 

 

May 19, 2024

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

With joyous hearts, we gather this weekend to celebrate the magnificent feast of Pentecost, marking the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the united Apostles. In the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke vividly describes this transformative moment when a powerful wind filled the upper room and tongues of fire settled upon each disciple. Importantly, he recounts how the Apostles, infused with the Holy Spirit, fearlessly proclaimed the Good News, enabling people from diverse nations to understand the message in their own languages.

Pentecost is a celebration of both the Holy Spirit’s outpouring and the unity this divine gift fosters among us. The Spirit bridges the gaps between diverse backgrounds, languages, and cultures, drawing all closer to the resurrected Christ. Through this unity, we encounter God’s boundless power, overcoming the divisions that separate us. The Holy Spirit doesn’t enforce conformity that erases diversity; instead, it enriches and preserves the unique beauty and individuality of each creation, much like sacred dew nourishing the varied flora of a garden.

This profound understanding of Pentecost compels us to strive for an inclusive society that treasures diversity as a splendid gift from the Creator’s Spirit. As members of the Catholic Church—rooted in tradition yet enriched by a tapestry of cultures and languages—we have a unique opportunity to bear witness to love, a universal language that everyone understands.

Regrettably, our society often suffers from pride, prejudice, and hatred, which lead to exclusion, alienation, and even violence. In response, we, as Christians, choose love. Love that rebuilds the human family, restores God’s intended unity and peace, and bridges the gaps caused by racism, xenophobia, and other prejudices.

For 184 years, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Astoria has been a spiritual sanctuary for countless immigrants, refugees, and families from abroad. This faith community, nurtured by diverse individuals, has bequeathed to us a rich Catholic heritage that blesses us today. While worshiping and living as a diverse community presents challenges, we are thankful to the Holy Spirit for the universal language of love—an enduring symbol of unity within our parish.

As we invoke “Veni Creator Spiritus,” the Church fervently prays, “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth!” Let us pray that our hearts, too, are ignited with a profound love for all, including those who speak different tongues.

May the blessings of Pentecost be upon each one of you.

Yours in Christ,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

May 12, 2024

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we gather this Seventh Sunday of Easter, we also celebrate Mother’s Day, a time to honor and reflect on the role of motherhood within our faith and families. In the second reading for this Sunday, we learn that if God loved us so profoundly, we too must love one another (cf. 1 Jn 4:11-16). This call to love is vividly embodied in the sacrificial, enduring love of a mother. In the Gospel, Jesus offers a High Priestly Prayer, emphasizing unity and protection for His disciples (cf. Jn 17:11b-19). This protective love mirrors the maternal care a mother provides, tirelessly working to unite and shield her family through the strength of her faith and love.

Mother’s Day, while a celebration, can also evoke a spectrum of emotions. For some, like Naomi in the Book of Ruth in the Old Testament, who experienced the profound loss of her sons, today may revive memories of children lost. For others, like Eve in the Book of Genesis, who endured the heartbreak of witnessing her first son, Cain, strike down her beloved younger son, Abel, today may bring reminders of the complexities and sometimes painful outcomes of children’s choices. These stories from Scripture open our hearts to the various paths of motherhood encountered in our congregation.

This month of May, we also honor the Blessed Virgin Mary, the exemplar of motherly care and love. Mary’s journey underscores her unwavering faith and the profound sorrows and joys of motherhood. From her acceptance of her role as the mother of Jesus to her silent sufferings and steadfast presence at the foot of the cross, Mary exemplifies the deep spiritual vocation of a mother. Her life reminds us that true motherly love is both a refuge and a beacon for her children, guiding them through the light of faith and love.

Every woman among us, whether she bears children or nurtures others through spiritual kinship, participates in the vocation of motherhood. Our Church is blessed with many mothers and all who take on a mothering role, nurturing and guiding not just through words, but through the example of their lives.

On this special day, like all of you, I want to say a big Thank You to my own mother, the most precious person in my life, for all her love throughout my life, and above all for her continued sacrifice of letting me go from our beloved home in Forest Hills, so that I can dedicate my whole life to God’s service and be present to you here at this parish, even as she would need me to be with her now more than ever in her old age. I must also express my deep gratitude to my adopted “American” grandmother who lives in Kew Gardens, a silent apostle of prayer, who has accompanied me with so much love and prayerful support since my seminary days until now. Additionally, I am blessed by a few remarkable women in this community who have shown me motherly care, attending to both my spiritual and physical well-being with such loving concern. I am deeply grateful for their goodness and support.

Today, as we reflect on the varied experiences of biblical mothers like Naomi, Eve, and Mary, let us embrace the full spectrum of motherhood in our own community. Whether you are experiencing the immediate challenges of raising children, navigating the complexities of adult children’s choices, mourning a loss, or celebrating the successes of your offspring, know that your role is vital and cherished.

I encourage each of you to extend your motherly care within our parish. Our community thrives under the guidance of those who, like Mary, act as beacons of faith and love. This Mother’s Day, let us recommit to nurturing each other, offering support, wisdom, and love to all in need.

With deepest affection and gratitude for all that you do, dear mothers, may God bless you, comfort you, and grant you joy in every aspect of motherhood.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

May 5, 2024

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we enter into the month of May, our hearts are drawn to the tender figure of Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary. May is a time when we express our deep love and devotion for the Mother of God, honoring her as not only the mother of Jesus but also as our spiritual mother, who watches over us with a mother’s care from her place as Queen of Heaven.

In the life of Mary, we find the epitome of discipleship and love. She is the perfect model for all who seek to follow her Son, Jesus Christ. Mary’s humility and complete surrender to the Divine Will are exemplified by her resounding “Yes” to God’s plan. She teaches us that true greatness lies in selfless service and obedience, echoing the very essence of Jesus’s commandment in this Sunday’s gospel: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15:9-17).

Mary’s life was centered on Christ, her Son. She willingly faded into the background, never seeking attention for herself but always pointing to Jesus. In this, she teaches us the importance of humility and putting God first in our lives. Mary invites us to imitate her example, to make room for Jesus in our hearts and lives, just as she made room for Him in her womb and in her life.

During this month of May, let us heed the call of our Holy Father and rekindle our devotion to Mary through the prayer of the Rosary. As Pope Francis reminds us, simplicity is key in our prayer life, whether we pray individually or as a community (Holy Father’s Letter for the Month of May 2020). Let us unite our hearts in spiritual communion, seeking Mary’s intercession and guidance as we journey closer to her Son, Jesus Christ.

In our parish, dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Marian devotion has always been the vibrant heartbeat of our spiritual community. From the Legion of Mary to the Rosary Society, from the Virgin of Guadalupe Prayer Group to the weekly gatherings for the Rosary, our community remains steadfast in its love for the Mother of God. The fervor displayed through the adornment of shrines and the glowing votive candles bears eloquent testimony to our unwavering trust in Mary’s maternal solicitude.

As we honor Mary during this sacred month, let us not forget to extend our prayers to all mothers, both living and deceased, as we celebrate Mother’s Day. Let us also remember our children who will receive the sacraments of Holy Communion and Confirmation, invoking Mary’s intercession for their spiritual journey.

In closing, let us immerse ourselves in the commandment of love that Jesus entrusted to us. Let us emulate Mary’s humility and obedience, thus embodying the profound truth of loving one another as Christ has loved us. May our devotion to Mary ignite within us a deeper love for her Son and inspire us to manifest that love through tangible acts of kindness and service towards our fellow travelers on this earthly pilgrimage.

With assurances of my prayers and spiritual closeness, I remain

Faithfully yours in Christ,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

April 28, 2024

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we gather on this fifth Sunday of Easter, I invite you to contemplate a poignant scenario: imagine you had only one day left to share the depths of your heart with someone you dearly love. What truths would you convey? This very situation unfolds in today’s Gospel, where Jesus, in the hours before His crucifixion, offers profound final teachings to His disciples—a series of exhortations and encouragements known as the “farewell discourse.”

In a deeply meaningful declaration, Jesus tells His followers, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener” (John 15:1). This statement transcends mere metaphor, asserting His unique and indispensable role as the source of spiritual life and nourishment. Just as branches cannot thrive without the vine, we too cannot flourish in virtue without remaining connected to Christ: “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4). The fruit Jesus refers to symbolizes the virtues that develop from a life anchored in Him—the visible signs of our inner transformation.

Contrasting a life united with Christ against one that is not, St. Paul articulates the consequences of disconnection: “sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery; idolatry, witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like” (Galatians 5:19-21). These actions starkly oppose the fruit of the Spirit, which includes “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Such qualities emerge only from a life deeply rooted in Christ.

Jesus further declares that God is like a gardener who actively cultivates our spiritual growth: “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:2). God’s pruning often manifests through life’s challenges, which, while difficult, are meant to refine our character and deepen our faith. These trials strip away what holds us back, enhancing our reliance on Him. As Hebrews 12:11 teaches, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Thus, while pruning can be painful, it is vital for our spiritual maturation, removing what is barren to promote what will thrive. By accepting these moments with trust, we allow God’s grace to shape us into stronger, more faithful followers of Christ.

I invite you to reflect deeply on your life this week. Consider the current challenges you face—whether difficulties causing pain, suffering, or stress. Could these trials represent moments of pruning by God? Reflect on your habits, attitudes, or behaviors that might need pruning. What might God be asking you to surrender to become more fruitful? Engage with these questions prayerfully, asking God to reveal areas in need of His transformative work. Trust in His process, knowing that through it, He nurtures our growth and molds us to better reflect Christ’s character.

May this week be a time of meaningful reflection and spiritual renewal as you seek to deepen your connection with Christ, the true vine.

Remembering you at the Altar, I am

Yours in Christ,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

April 21, 2024

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On this fourth Sunday of Easter, we observe Good Shepherd Sunday, a day also designated as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In our Mass readings, we are immersed in the imagery of God’s loving care for us, portrayed through the steadfast vigilance of a shepherd watching over his flock.

The enduring metaphor of the Good Shepherd continues to resonate profoundly within our hearts, evoking our innate longing for guidance and protection. Psalm 23, “The Lord is My Shepherd,” remains a cherished prayer of our faith, embodying the assurance of divine provision and guidance. But why does this ancient imagery still speak to us in our modern, post-agricultural world? The answer is quite simple: we all yearn for a shepherd. In times of turmoil and uncertainty, we seek someone to lead, protect, and guide us—much like sheep instinctively rely on their shepherd for direction and safety.

Like sheep, we humans are inherently social beings, finding comfort and security in community. Whether it’s in sports, politics, work, or school, we naturally gravitate towards like-minded individuals, drawn together by shared interests and beliefs. Yet, within the tapestry of our faith communities, we recognize a unique unity amidst diversity. Unity and love between shepherds and their flocks are essential for the flourishing of the body of Christ, bringing glory to the Lord and offering hope to the world.

When Jesus gathered his disciples, he demonstrated the importance of community in our journey of faith. Much like the sheep that recognize their shepherd’s voice amidst chaos, we are called to heed the voice of Christ amidst the clamor of competing voices in our modern world. He is the shepherd we need, offering solace and direction amidst life’s complexities and challenges.

The ministry of priests in the Church serves as a tangible embodiment of Christ’s shepherding care for his flock. Just as Jesus appointed disciples to continue his work on earth, so too does he call forth shepherds in every generation to tend to his sheep. The title of “pastor,” bestowed upon parish priests, underscores their role as spiritual shepherds, entrusted with the sacred task of leading, feeding, and nurturing their flock.

Let us, therefore, lift up our priests in prayer, especially our pastors who bear the weight of shepherding their flocks. Let us also remember the seminarians, young men who are discerning the call to priesthood, and offer them our support and encouragement on their journey of faith. In nurturing future shepherds, we ensure the continuation of Christ’s ministry on earth, ensuring that his flock is always tended to with love and care.

I am sincerely grateful for the support and esteem that you have extended to my brother priests and me in our parish community. Your prayers and encouragement fortify us in our commitment to faithfully serve God’s people. Please continue to remain close to us in prayer as we navigate the challenges of our calling with humility and devotion. Know that we are here to care for you, especially for those among our flock who may feel particularly in need.

Commending you all to the loving care of Jesus, our Good Shepherd, I am,

Faithfully yours,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham