December 3, 2023

Dear Parish Family,

As the liturgical year renews, we embark on the profound journey of Advent. This time of awe and anticipation invites us to prepare not only for the joyous birth of Christ but also for His glorious return. It’s a season reminding us of our own accountability before God, reflecting on our lives and His gifts to us.

Advent, meaning “arrival,” spans four Sundays leading to Christmas Eve. This period, starting with the first Sunday of Advent, marks our Church’s “New Year’s Day,” bringing new readings and a renewed spirit. Characterized by joyful anticipation and penance, its purple hues, turning to rose on the Third Sunday, symbolize our growing closeness to the Lord.

This season echoes the longing of prophets and John the Baptist, vividly portraying Mary and Joseph’s faithful wait. Let their example guide us in all facets of life, as we too prepare to meet Jesus, not in sacraments alone, but face to face.

Often, Advent seems fleeting amidst our busy lives. This year, let’s choose to fully engage with this sacred time. Drawing parallels from holiday home preparations, let’s ready our hearts for Christ’s coming:

Prepare Him Room: Begin by examining your conscience. Identify and let go of unforgiveness, greed, and other spiritual impediments to make space for Christ in your heart.

Clean out the Clutter: Engage in Confession this Advent. This sacrament aids in clearing lingering sins and renewing our spiritual focus.

Hang New Curtains: With a clean heart, it’s time to embrace joy. Replace despair with joy and anticipation, remembering that the Lord delights in joyful hearts.

Set the Table: As we affirm, “The Lord is near!”, let’s exhibit our best virtues – patience, generosity, enthusiasm, and charity. These are the fine china of our souls, signifying our readiness for His presence. In this spirit, Pope Francis encourages us to think concretely about our actions in preparation for Christmas. “This could mean visiting someone who is alone, helping the elderly or the ill, or serving the poor or someone in need. It may also mean asking for forgiveness for our mistakes, paying a debt, clarifying a misunderstanding, or praying more. We can all find something concrete to do” (Angelus Address for the Third Sunday of Advent 2022).

Open Wide the Door: After preparation, we wait in quiet anticipation. In this state of vigilance and prayer, we no longer worry about lost time or unfinished tasks. We stand ready to welcome Christ.

May this Advent season inspire you to ready your heart for Christ, enriching your faith and bringing blessings to you and your loved ones.

Yours in Christ,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

November 26, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters,

As this liturgical year draws to a close, we come together to celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, a day that invites us to contemplate the profound truths of Christ’s reign, characterized by justice, love, and peace. This particular Sunday also holds unique significance for our Vietnamese brothers and sisters as they gather to celebrate Saint Andrew Dũng Lạc and the Vietnamese Martyrs, patrons of our parish’s Vietnamese community. In our parish, this convergence of celebrations, though a happy coincidence of calendar scheduling, unveils a divine tapestry that interweaves the universal kingship of Christ with the heroic witness of these Martyrs.

The Gospel reading for this Sunday’s Mass presents the parable of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46). In this narrative, Christ our King identifies Himself with the least among us, a message resonating with the lives of St. Andrew Dũng Lạc and his companions. These 117 Martyrs, canonized in 1988, are symbols of resilience and faith, representing the hundreds of thousands who endured persecution for their beliefs in 17th and 18th century Vietnam. Their enduring faith continues to inspire Vietnamese Catholic communities worldwide, including our own.

The extraordinary fortitude of these martyrs, from priests like St. Andrew Dũng Lạc to laypersons such as Agnese Lê Thị Thành, exemplifies an unwavering commitment to Christ, even in the face of severe trials and unimaginable suffering. Their final cries of, “Long live Christ the King!” is a timeless echo of their devotion and a reminder of Christ’s eternal reign.

In honoring the Vietnamese Martyrs, we are called to reflect on our own devotion, especially as we approach the Holy Eucharist. Their deep reverence and love for the Lord’s Real Presence in the Eucharist serve as a model for us. When we receive Holy Communion, it is essential to prepare for this profound encounter with the Lord by being in a state of grace, fully detached from sin. As we form a throne with our hands to welcome Christ our King, we express not just an external gesture but an internal disposition. This act of reverence, more than just a ritual, is a tangible manifestation of our deep faith.

The alignment of our Vietnamese community’s celebration of the Vietnamese Martyrs with the Solemnity of Christ the King presents an opportunity for spiritual growth. Their steadfast faith and their deep devotion to the Eucharist serve as a powerful challenge for us to strengthen our own commitment to faith. As we honor their ultimate sacrifice, we simultaneously celebrate their eternal victory in Christ, our King.

Seen in this light, today’s Solemn Mass and the Procession of the Relics of the Vietnamese Martyrs, observed by our Vietnamese parishioners at 3PM in the main church, go beyond mere commemoration. These acts are vibrant expressions of our faith’s living tradition. The Vietnamese community at our parish has been particularly instrumental in this. Their cultural and spiritual gifts have greatly enriched our ecclesial life, most notably through the many priestly and religious vocations they have offered to the Church. The presence of dedicated priests and seminarians, who have regarded Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish as their spiritual home for over forty years, stands as a testament to the dynamic faith inspired by the enduring legacy of the Vietnamese Martyrs.

As we anticipate the Season of Advent next weekend, may the courage of the Vietnamese Martyrs and the sovereignty of Christ the King inspire us to live our faith with renewed vigor, embodying Christ’s love and peace.

In Christ, our King and Lord,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

November 19, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters,

As Thanksgiving approaches, we are called to gather and express our gratitude for the manifold blessings we have received—our lives, faith, family, friends, and the freedom to celebrate in a nation of plenty. In these moments of joy, we must be mindful of our utter dependence on God’s grace, which sustains us in all seasons of life. St. Paul encourages us: “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Even when faced with loss, illness, or the complexities of life, our hearts can find reasons to be thankful, knowing that God is with us through each trial.

Recalling my blessings, I am instantly transported back to our first Thanksgiving in America. In November of 1990, my family had newly arrived from Vietnam, settling into the unfamiliar landscape of Flushing, Queens. The memory of our initial celebration is vivid: the startling white of our first snowfall, the cold that seemed to echo the strangeness of our new world, and the weight of starting anew. Our small apartment was a sharp contrast to the warmth of our lost home.

Against this backdrop of change, the late Msgr. Celsus O. Collini, then beloved pastor of Queen of Peace parish, remains a beacon of encouragement for us. I vividly recall him arriving at our door on Thanksgiving Day, his coat sprinkled with snowflakes, bearing gifts that bridged our old and new worlds—two large turkeys, bags full of potatoes, and an assortment of foods we had never seen. As my mother, an adept cook, grappled with the unfamiliar challenge of preparing a turkey, our first “American” guest, the down-to-earth parish priest, savored our crispy spring rolls, creating a perfect fusion of our Vietnamese heritage with American tradition.

The kind act by Msgr. Collini, who would later guide me to the seminary, transformed our Thanksgiving from a foreign concept into a celebration filled with profound connections and communal warmth. His presence and the shared meal that afternoon went beyond a mere cultural exchange; it was an intimate blending of lives and faiths, epitomizing the true essence of being the Church. Since that inaugural Thanksgiving, my reflection often turns to those for whom the holiday might be transformed by such acts of kindness and pastoral outreach.

As we approach this Thanksgiving, let us be mindful of those experiencing their first holiday season in America. Amidst new beginnings, the feelings of uncertainty and isolation can be overwhelming. Our parish has a beautiful opportunity to reach out with warmth and care to the newcomers, the impoverished, the sick, the lonely, and even those neighbors who remain unknown to us. This season, may we embody the spirit of Thanksgiving by offering the same kindness and compassion my family received when we arrived. As we count our blessings and savor our freedom, let us also pray for global peace, particularly in the Holy Land, Ukraine, and all areas marred by strife.

In gratitude for the steadfast dedication of our priests, deacons, parish staff, group leaders, volunteers, and benefactors, I invite you to our Annual Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 23, at 9:00am. Celebrating this Mass together strengthens the bonds of our community and enriches the evening’s feast, adding significance to the blessings we share from the Lord’s Table and with our families at home.

May joy and a profound sense of gratitude fill your hearts as we reflect on the love and fellowship that flows within our parish family. Together, let us be inspired to make our daily lives a reflection of the Holy Eucharist—the ultimate expression of our thanksgiving.

A Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

November 12, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As the 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time unfolds, we draw nearer to the liturgical year’s close—a time rich with thoughts of endings and new beginnings and filled with anticipation for the Advent season. During these reflective days, a light-hearted anecdote from the Empire State Building captures our spiritual theme beautifully. When a tourist inquired, “If the elevator cable breaks, do we go up or down?” the guide humorously yet pointedly responded, “That depends on how you are living.” This jest finds a deeper resonance as we meditate on the anticipation of Christ’s second coming.

The Gospel for this Sunday presents the parable of the ten virgins (Mt 25:1-13), a stark reminder to maintain vigilance and readiness for the Lord. The misstep of the five foolish virgins, who found themselves barred from the wedding feast, accentuates the perils of spiritual procrastination. Conversely, the preparedness of the wise virgins, with their lamps well-stocked, serves as an exemplar for us—to be ever ready for Christ—the Bridegroom.

This parable transcends time, speaking to each of us today. The prepared virgins illustrate the necessity of being ever vigilant due to the unpredictable timing of the groom’s return. The foolish ones, meanwhile, embody the risks of a lax spiritual regime, thinking they could depend on last-minute resources—a gamble that led to their downfall.

The Gospel’s message to us is unequivocal: Spiritual preparedness is not merely beneficial; it’s crucial. It requires our own effort, cultivated through constant faith and action. It’s an initiative that we cannot postpone, outsource, or borrow.

Preparedness means building a daily, not occasional, relationship with God. It’s about constantly fueling our lives with virtuous deeds, prayers, and acts of charity. Like the concerned tourist in the elevator, we too should wish for a life elevated by virtue, with a steadfast faith.

Applying this readiness in practical terms, let our daily actions be as nourishing and essential as the Sunday Eucharist. Let us engage in daily prayer, delve into Scripture, partake in the Sacraments for sustained grace, and practice virtue as a genuine expression of our alignment with Jesus’s teachings. Every kind act adds more oil to our lamps, ensuring a glow that withstands all trials.

In essence, let’s consider our spiritual direction with the same seriousness as one would contemplate their fate in a stalled elevator. With the year waning, let us firmly commit to living in a state of grace and watchfulness for the Lord’s return.

Let us move ahead with lamps ablaze, reflecting our faith through vibrant, active lives, and hearts filled with unwavering hope.

With prayers for your diligent faithfulness,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

November 5, 2023

Dear parish family,

As we step into the month of November, our spiritual journey is enriched by two profound celebrations that encapsulate our faith’s deep sense of communion and intercession. We commence this sacred time with the Solemnity of All Saints on November 1st—a joyous feast that celebrates the Church Triumphant in heaven. This celebration encompasses both the renowned Saints and the multitude of Holy Souls whose names are known only to God. These are our brothers and sisters who have victoriously completed their earthly pilgrimage and now bask in the eternal glory of God’s presence.

This exuberant celebration of sanctity and grace seamlessly flows into the observance of All Souls’ Day on November 2nd, forming a theological bridge that connects the Church Triumphant with the Church Suffering. In the glory of the Saints, we find inspiration and advocacy; they stand as powerful intercessors before the throne of God on behalf of the Holy Souls in Purgatory—those who are still undergoing spiritual purification from the effects of their sins before they could enjoy the beatific vision of God. These two days together remind us of the profound spiritual solidarity that exists between us—the Church Militant, the Saints in heaven, and the Souls in Purgatory.

In embracing the month dedicated to remembering the Holy Souls, we immerse ourselves in the beauty and depth of our Catholic faith, affirming our belief in Purgatory and recognizing the transformative power of prayer. As a community of faith, we come together to lift up in prayer our departed brothers and sisters, many of whom have left a lasting impact on our lives, and whose memory we cherish with love and reverence.

The month unfolds with the Novena of Holy Masses at our parish, a time-honored tradition that provides a special remembrance at the Altar during the Eucharistic Prayer for those enrolled. This spiritual practice offers consolation and hope, as we recall the lives of those we have loved and lost. My own heart is drawn to the memory of my dear father, who departed this life two and a half years ago. He was a steadfast believer in the power of Mass intentions for the souls in Purgatory, a faith practice he lovingly passed down to me. He understood that our prayers assist the Holy Souls in their journey to heaven, and once they attain eternal peace, they become our intercessors before God.

The Holy Scriptures affirm the value of praying for the dead, encouraging us with the words, “It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins” (2 Maccabees 12:46). In November, the Church offers us a unique opportunity to obtain Indulgences for the Holy Souls. By visiting a cemetery and praying for the dead, we can obtain an indulgence, a gift of grace that aids the souls in their journey to full communion with God. To partake in this act of mercy, we are called to receive Holy Communion, go to Confession, remain in the state of grace, and pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.

I warmly encourage each of you to embrace the practices and devotions that this month offers, as we seek to aid the Holy Souls on their journey to heaven. You are invited to request Holy Masses for them, participate in the Holy Rosary, meditate on the Scriptures, engage in public or private devotions, dedicate acts of charity, or offer up your sacrifices in their memory. These acts of faith and devotion enrich our spiritual lives and strengthen our bond with the entire Communion of Saints.

Holding you and your deceased loved ones in prayerful remembrance at the Altar, I remain

Faithfully yours in Christ,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

October 29, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

In these times of turmoil and violence in the Holy Land, our hearts are heavy as we witness the suffering of both Israelis and Palestinians, caught in a long-standing and complex conflict. Our thoughts and prayers extend to every victim, their grieving families, and all those ensnared in this vicious cycle of violence.

As we come together to celebrate the Eucharist on this 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time, the liturgical Scriptures profoundly resonate with our current situation, challenging us to live out Christ’s greatest commandment of love, even in the most turbulent of times. In the first reading from Exodus, we are reminded of God’s unequivocal call to protect and cherish the underprivileged (Ex 22:20-26). St. Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians, applauds their faith in Christ and the mutual love it has kindled among them (1 Thes 1: 5c-10). The Gospel of St. Matthew, however, brings us to the core of Jesus’ teaching: to love God wholeheartedly and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mt 22:34-40). These Scriptures, in harmony, urge us to a love that transcends borders, recognizing the divine image in each person, affirming the sanctity and worth of every human life.

The horrific escalation of violence in the Holy Land, ignited by the ruthless attack by Hamas terrorists and intensified by Israel’s severe retaliatory actions, has caused unimaginable suffering on both sides. The world grieves for the innocent lives lost, the families broken, and the communities ravaged. In the midst of this, many of us find ourselves in a tangled web of emotions and allegiances, further complicated by our polarized global political climate. There is a palpable sense of ambivalence. Many people grapple with the tension of supporting Israel’s right to self-defense while simultaneously empathizing with the Palestinians’ struggles and hardships.

In this, the teaching of Jesus on love and neighborliness becomes not only timely but also profoundly challenging, demanding of us an extraordinary courage. To love amidst conflict calls us to rise above our biases, to acknowledge the inherent dignity in every person, irrespective of their nationality or faith. It is a vehement call to denounce violence in all its forms, recognizing its capability only to perpetuate more violence and its stark contradiction to the Gospel.

As disciples of Christ, we are impelled to condemn violence and uphold justice. This responsibility transcends our personal opinions on the conflict, reminding that Israelis and Palestinians alike are our neighbors, created in God’s image. The command to love our neighbor knows no borders; it is an urgent call to justice, peace, and reconciliation for all.

The situation in the Holy Land is deeply entrenched in history and pain, and it does not lend itself to simple or quick solutions. Yet, we must not lose hope. The teaching of Jesus challenges us to believe in the transformative power of love. Let us pray for the strength to renounce hatred and revenge, choosing instead the path of justice, mercy, and reconciliation.

In Christ’s peace,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

October 22, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters,

On this 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Scripture readings remind us of our dual responsibilities: to our earthly duties and our devotion to God. In the Gospel, when Jesus said, “Give therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” he reminds us that just as we owe certain duties to our earthly abode, we equally owe our devotion and service to the Almighty (cf. Mt 22:15-21).

In reflecting on this theme, our beloved church comes to mind. Just as any homeowner knows the significance of maintaining their dwelling, we too must understand the importance of keeping our church building and parish facilities in good condition. Our church is not just a building; it’s a legacy. Our forefathers worked tirelessly, sacrificing much, to gift us this magnificent edifice. We owe it to them, ourselves, and our future generations to ensure it remains a beacon of faith.

I am pleased to report to you that we have been taking significant strides in preserving and enhancing our church. For many years, as many of you have personally experienced, the rains brought severe flooding which threatened the very foundation of our church building. The original clay pipes beneath the ground have been found to be severely deteriorated and collapsed, impeding proper drainage. I’m thrilled to announce that we have replaced the original clay pipes, and that the longstanding issue of flooding in our church has been resolved. Indeed, after the recent flash rains, our church remained completely dry! Moreover, the sporadic leaks in both the main church and chapel have also been tended to, ensuring the safety and sanctity of our worship spaces.

Looking ahead, two significant projects are underway. You might have noticed the scaffolding gracing our church’s facade. It has been set up to address the deteriorating wood frames around our beautiful stained-glass windows. Expert guidance has shown the urgency of this repair. Soon, these windows will not only be protected but also shine luminously, even from outside at night. Concurrently, thanks to a generous bequest from a parishioner, we hope to reinstate the melodious chimes of our church bell soon, echoing the Catholic presence in our community.

Furthermore, to address our growing community’s needs, construction will commence on expanding the glass atrium along the left corridor, facing the rectory. This will realize a promise I had made to provide additional space for our myriad of groups and ministries, which has been a critical need as our community continues to grow. As these projects progress, I assure you that our daily Mass and services will remain uninterrupted, and inconvenience will be kept to a minimal. I humbly ask for your patience and collaboration during this period.

The cherry on top—quite literally—is that we have planted cherry blossoms around our church, rectory, and school, and even replaced missing maple trees, thanks to a philanthropic gift. Come next spring, we will be greeted with their serene beauty that will delight and uplift our souls.

These accomplishments, dear parishioners, have been possible due to your unwavering faith, generosity, and commitment. Each brick laid, every tree planted, is a testament to your love for our church and will ensure that it remains a place of encounter, faith, and community for future generations.

I want to end with this Sunday’s resounding Responsorial Psalm: “Give the Lord glory and honor” (Ps 96). For in all our endeavors, may we glorify Him and hold our beloved church as a symbol of our collective pride, gratitude, and joy.

In Christ’s love,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

October 15, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Greetings in the love of our Lord as we gather on this 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Our readings today beautifully illustrate the invitation God extends to all: a lavish feast representing the eternal banquet in heaven. This grand image finds its resonance in our own Eucharistic celebrations – a sublime invitation offered to us regularly.

However, a divine invitation of this magnitude demands a heartfelt response. It prompts reflection: How do we answer this call? Observing our parish community, it’s evident that while many are deeply engrossed in their faith, others remain distant, treating their religious identity as mere tradition rather than a vibrant, living relationship with Christ. The reality that many baptized Catholics drift away or adhere to their faith only superficially signals a need for renewed catechesis on the profound gift of the Eucharist.

Our Church teaches that Catholics are obliged to go to Mass every Sunday and obligatory feast days, “unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor” (or bishop) (Code of Canon Law, c. 1247). Yet, sadly, a majority of baptized Catholics do not observe this, nor seem to practice their faith in any visible form today. Studies after studies have found that there is a serious decline in Church participation and membership across the board. This beckons us to ask whether people understand the greatness of God’s generous invitation.

For those of us who attend Mass, we must probe deeper: Are we fully present, in mind, body, and spirit? External actions, such as the way we dress or our punctuality, offer insights into our internal disposition. A hurried entrance or an early exit, casual attire, and using the church more as a meeting point than a sacred space, might indicate a lack of understanding or appreciation of the Mass’s significance.

Beyond these externalities, what of our internal disposition? The disconnect between one’s proclaimed faith and daily actions is a concern. A vibrant faith life should permeate every aspect of our existence, ensuring that our actions and interactions consistently mirror Christ’s teachings. Are our hearts truly with God? Do our actions, beyond Sunday Mass, reflect our faith? Let’s remember, as psychologists often say: all behavior communicates. Our external actions often mirror our internal dispositions. Are we truly clothed in gratitude, love, and righteous deeds?

During my recent pilgrimage to Rome, I was deeply moved by the reverence at a Papal Mass. The congregants, in their finest attire and utmost decorum, showcased a deep respect not just for the Holy Father but for the divine celebration. Should we not exhibit even greater reverence when encountering Christ Himself in the Eucharist?

Yet, our faith doesn’t exist in isolation. As Pope Francis says, the devastating conflict between Hamas and Israelis serves as a poignant reminder of our world’s suffering. As we reflect on our personal spiritual journey, let’s also fervently join him to pray for peace, understanding that true solutions emerge from dialogue and mutual respect.

Dear brothers and sisters, this is a call for an authentic reawakening. May we always be properly attired, in both heart and appearance, ready for the great banquet the Lord offers us.

In Christ’s peace and love,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

October 8, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters,

How wonderful it is to be back among you! Two enriching weeks in Rome, with its historic wonders and grand papal liturgies, have only deepened my faith. But even amidst the Eternal City’s majesty, I missed our parish’s unique warmth and spirit. I’ve been eager to share the memorable stories of my journey with you.

One of the trip’s highlights was attending the Consistory in St. Peter’s Square on September 30th. Witnessing the Holy Father elevate 21 esteemed prelates, among them the beloved Archbishop Christophe Pierre—the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States and a figure close to my heart—to the College of Cardinals was truly a joyous occasion. Pope Francis’s heartfelt call to these newly appointed Cardinals to serve the Lord’s flock with unity and selflessness resonated deeply within me.

Another significant moment was the Opening Mass for the Synod of Bishops on Synodality on October 4th. This gathering exemplifies the Church’s essence, with representatives from all around the world coming together to discern the Holy Spirit’s guidance. The diverse experiences and aspirations shared by the Synod Fathers are a poignant reminder of our Church’s universality, encouraging us to walk together towards God’s Kingdom.

Yet, among these unforgettable moments, the evening of September 25th stands apart. I had the honor of a personal audience with Pope Francis. As we spoke, I shared stories of our parish, its cultural diversity, challenges with the influx of migrants, and our thriving youth ministries. The Pope’s genuine warmth and attentiveness, his words of encouragement to me and the greetings he sent to our priests and our community manifested tangibly his spiritual closeness and affection for his flock. I was profoundly moved by an extraordinary gesture from the Holy Father: he signed a zucchetto—the distinctive white skull cap that he usually wears—and presented it as a gift to our parish. This unique gift will be a cherished sign of our community’s close bond with the Vicar of Christ and the universal Church.

As I journeyed through Rome, you were always in my prayers, especially before the Tombs of our Saints and Popes. Witnessing the preparations for the 2025 Great Jubilee, I am now keen to plan a pilgrimage, hoping our parish can share in the deep blessings of being near the Vicar of Christ.

While I was away, I received news of the torrential rain and flooding in New York City from last week. It filled me with deep concern. I’m aware that many homes, including our church and parish facilities, sustained damage. I sincerely hope that each of you and your families are safe and have been able to address and repair any damages. During those trying times, I fervently prayed for everyone and stayed in close contact with our parish staff and lay leaders. I must express my profound gratitude and commend the dedicated efforts of our maintenance team. They responded swiftly to the flooding, ensuring that our church and facilities were repaired and made ready for the community’s use.

Drawing parallels with the readings of this 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the vineyard’s allegory mirrors my recent experiences. God’s lovingly tended vineyard symbolizes His ceaseless care for us and our responsibility to bear fruit. I’m inspired by the spiritual commitment I observed in Rome and hope it serves as a beacon, urging our parish, the ‘little vineyard’ of the Lord, to continue flourishing in love, unity, and service.

With deep gratitude for your continuous devotion and care for our community, let us march forward, invigorated by the global Church’s example, firmly rooted in Christ’s boundless love.

With my heartfelt blessings,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham

October 1, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings from Rome, the Eternal City!

As you gather for the Eucharist on this 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time, I pray that today’s Scripture readings may deeply resonate with you. They invite us to reflect on virtues like repentance, humility, and obedience to God – essential in our Christian journey. Even from Rome, these themes profoundly shape my daily reflections.

Spiritual life, as we know, isn’t a one-time affair. It’s a continuous journey, demanding consistent alignment with God, placing Him at the center, and putting His will above our own desires. Embracing virtues of humility, conversion, and obedience has its challenges, even for me, a priest. But as I walk amidst the ancient beauty of Rome, passing holy sites where Saints once tread and reflecting upon their timeless stories, I’m reminded that embodying these virtues, while daunting, remains achievable. The legacies of St. Peter and St. Paul, amidst numerous others down the ages, serve as living testaments to this possibility.

These days, I have the joy of reuniting with friends who are priests, religious and lay people serving the Church at the Vatican and in Rome. Coming from many different corners of the globe, each shares a unique narrative of relinquishing familiar comforts to serve the Holy Father and the global Church here. Their stories, brimming with sacrifice and love for God, further illuminate the depth of repentance, humility and obedience required in our Christian journey. Their faithful service, often hidden and unsung, yet profound and significant, underscores the depth of true discipleship, emphasizing God’s will above personal desires.

Though I may be miles away, my heart remains close to our parish. Each day, as I walk pass the Eternal City’s ancient and revered sites, I offer up prayers for all of you. I hope that, inspired by the indomitable spirit of Rome’s Saints – both past and those still walking its streets – we too find the resolve to prioritize God’s will in our lives. This Sunday’s Gospel, contrasting two sons, serves as introspection. I often see myself in the first son, who quickly assents but fails to follow through. Yet, my deeper desire is to mirror the transformed spirit of the second son, who, despite initial hesitance, chooses to align with the Father’s desires. This parable tells me that repentance, humility, and obedience, while challenging to embody at times, remain achievable to us. No matter our past hesitations, it’s never too late to realign with God’s call.

If even this recognition seems difficult, we have a powerful tool to guide and strengthen us: the Holy Rosary. This simple yet profound prayer has, for generations, turned ordinary people into extraordinary disciples, leading them towards virtuous lives. As we step into October, the Month of the Rosary, may we daily strive to emulate Mary who epitomized these virtues so perfectly. Remember, with every recitation of the Hail Mary, we are called to transform, serve humbly, and submit to God’s divine plan, echoing Mary’s unwavering “yes” to the Lord.

In the United States, October also marks Respect Life Month, emphasizing the sanctity and inherent dignity of life from conception to natural death. In a world often indifferent to the vulnerable – the preborn, the differently-abled, the elderly – we are summoned to champion their cause. Embracing the values of repentance, humility, and obedience to God becomes even more crucial now. May the examples set by Our Lady, the Saints, and countless other holy people in the Church propel us towards a life steeped in these transformative virtues.

With warm regards and blessings,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham