Bishop Kopacz ordains priest for Dehonians

By Mary Gorski
HOUSTON – On June 1, in the sacristy of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Houston, Texas, Paul Phong Hoang, SCJ, was vested as a deacon for the last time. An hour later, surrounded by family, friends, and fellow Dehonians, his parents would help to vest him as a priest.

Bishop Joseph Kopacz of the Diocese of Jackson, was the ordaining bishop. During Father Paul’s words of thanks at the end of the ordination, we learned that he and the bishop first met over a bowl of cereal in the kitchen of the Dehonian community house in Nesbit, Mississippi.

On Saturday, June 1, Bishop Joseph Kopacz ordained Father Paul Phong Hoang, SCJ to the priesthood at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Houston, Texas. Father Paul will be serving the Northwest Mississippi following his ordination. (Photo by Mary Gorski)

“Who was this guy eating in our kitchen?” thought Father Paul when he saw the bishop. The ministries of Sacred Heart Southern Missions fall within the Diocese of Jackson. When the bishop travels to the northern portion of that diocese, he often stays with the Sacred Heart community, where he regularly starts his day with a bowl of cereal.

When he met the bishop, Father Paul was in Mississippi as a student. Years later he would return to serve as a deacon and now as a priest in the Diocese of Jackson.

The man in the kitchen would one day travel to Houston to ordain Father Paul.

“I am so happy that Father Paul will continue to serve in our diocese,” said Bishop Kopacz.

When asked if he has advice for someone discerning a call to the priesthood or religious life, Father Paul talked about his religious community, but also about God’s call to each of us:

“Our community – the Dehonians – makes space for people from all different walks of life. Let us not be discouraged by a person, an incident, a thing that hurt or bothered us. The love of Christ and our charism are what unite us. There are still people in the world searching for the Truth, hungry for Christ, and wanting to be loved. Despite our personal human weaknesses, God continues to call us to serve His church and people.”