By Maureen Smith
GREENVILLE – Joseph Le was accepted into candidacy for Holy Orders at a 5:30 p.m. Mass at St. Joseph Parish Saturday, Jan. 17. Le, who was born in Vietnam and immigrated with his family as a teenager, spent 17 years as a Carmelite brother. He said he felt called to be a priest and started looking for the right place. He spent some time in Alaska, but knew that was not the right community.
Le met Father Anthony Quyet, who used to be Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Jackson, and decided to move to Mississippi. He spent time at St. Joseph and the warm greetings he got from many parishioners the evening of the Mass was evidence of how well he fit into the community. He is currently studying theology at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans.
Admission to candidacy is one of the steps toward ordination. In the rite, a seminarian is presented to the bishop, makes promises to pursue his studies and is accepted.
The readings for the day included the story of Samuel hearing God calling him, but thinking it was his mentor Eli and of the calling of the first Apostles. “The readings are ideal when we consider the path of vocation in the church,’ said Bishop Joseph Kopacz during his homily. “The call to vocation, we know, is to each person who belongs to Christ,” he added.
He also reflected that many times children show up at their parents’ bedside when they think they hear a voice in the night, just as Samuel ran to Eli when he heard a voice. Eli realizes the voice is from God and tells Samuel how to respond. “That is a great image of family life – of how we are introduced to God in our prayers, especially our nighttime prayers,” said the bishop.
He commended Le for responding. “Certainly the hand of God has been working through your life, with your family traveling to the U.S and your journey through the Carmelites and now on your path to priesthood,” said Bishop Kopacz.
Le said he was excited about taking this step. “Even though it’s not as important as ordination, you feel like it’s just a beginning, a stepping into the water. And to see how people are responding – it means a lot to me,” he said.
Le will be ordained a transitional deacon later this year.