Father Nguyen, Father Sánchez ordained for the diocese

By Berta Mexidor and Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – Bishop Joseph Kopacz ordained César Sánchez Fermín and Andrew Nguyen to the priesthood at the Cathedral of St. Peter Jackson on Saturday, June 27.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the celebration originally scheduled in May, it could not stop the celebration of the two men joining the priesthood, but the event looked slightly different due to safety regulations in place. Every other pew was blocked off to allow for social distancing and members of the diocese were encouraged to watch via Facebook live rather than attend in person. Diocesan priests, seminarians, and a few selected special guests of the men to be ordained wore masks throughout the service.
“The Lord has blessed our diocese with holy men from every corner of the earth. Welcome Father Andrew and Father Cesar!” commented Mark Beyea of Clinton, on Facebook. The spirit of gratitude and happiness could not be stolen from the occasion by the pandemic.
The ordination Mass also celebrated the cultural diversity of the diocese , the Vietnamese heritage of now Father Nguyen and the Spanish heritage of now Father Sanchez, who hails from Michoacán, Mexico.
Beginning his homily, Bishop Kopacz mentioned the universal church and how that all “gathered around the Word of God as proclaimed so beautifully and profoundly in Spanish, Vietnamese and in English” for the ordination Mass. He also acknowledged the reach of livestreaming the event, which reached family and friends of now Father Sanchez in Michoacán, Mexico and now Father Nguyen in Ninh Thuân province and Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam.
The ordination Mass included many powerful moments, especially when the men lay prostrate in an act of humble prayer and surrender before the altar invoking the prayers of the saints sung in chant by Father Aaron Williams and seminarians Andrew Bowden and Tristan Stovall.
After the laying on of hands and prayer of ordination, the ordination of the two new priests proceeded to their investiture of the stole and chasuble. Father Nguyen was vested by Father Peter Hoai Thanh and Father Sánchez was vested by Father Mike O’Brien of Sacred Heart Canton.
Fathers Andrew and César are following the Good News of the scriptures, and with their ordination, both promised to Bishop Kopacz, to propagate it to continue saving souls.
The happiness of the occasion was shared by all the emojis and comments from the viewers:
Jim McCraw of Jackson wrote “Congratulations Father Andrew! Love your quiet and confident spirit. You will make a difference! Your affection for Meridian is hard to hide.”
“Prayers of thanksgiving for these two young men for answering the call to the priesthood. May the Lord bless them in their service,” wrote Mary P. Robinson of Madison.
After the celebration of the Eucharist, Bishop Kopacz invited Father Sánchez and Father Nguyen to speak to their families who were not able to be present at the joyous event due to the pandemic through the livestream broadcast.
In his native language, Father Sánchez spoke to his family. He closed in English saying that he has had a wonderful support system from those in the Diocese of Jackson and that he has “always felt at home.”
“And you know that home is where your heart is, so I really feel that. Now, Jackson diocese is my second home,” said Father Sánchez.
Father Nguyen spoke to his family members present and afar in Vietnamese and then thanked all for their prayers and support.
In his closing remarks, Bishop Kopacz asked all to “continue to pray for priests … and continue forward together as the Lord’s people.”
Father Sánchez is appointed parochial vicar at St. James Tupelo and St. Christopher Pontotoc.
Father Nguyen is appointed parochial vicar at St. Patrick and St. Joseph parishes in Meridian.