I have said it many times over: our experiences are very individualized, but they are better when shared. In sharing, we become personal which leads to vulnerability. With vulnerability comes trust. Thus, I have always try to uphold trust in every relationship. All of this leads me to an evening at Chartres during our pilgrimage.

We gathered in the parish center-like room southeast of the cathedral for the opportunity to process the pilgrimage for the very first time as a group. Many blog posts were shared or derived from that heartfelt “upper room” liberation, similar to this one. Everyone was a little vulnerable that evening, which enabled the deep connection we formed with one another.

Someone asked Fr. John how he became a priest, particularly a Holy Cross priest. He openly provided a heartfelt and sincere response. It was a vulnerable moment for him, yet he trusted us and shared his deep personal response to a loving invitation to a relationship with God. Similarly, every relationship is an invitation and a response he reminded us. This is called discernment. I experienced similar calling to the priesthood but right now, my vocation is the Rector of Duncan Hall as a lay minister.

As the rector of Duncan Hall I am finding God, fulfillment and satisfaction in knowing that I helped empower many people for the betterment of Duncan Hall, Our Lady’s University, the Church and the world. My ministerial experiences formed my opinion that an effective minister has to be able to empower other people to the ministry. I believe we should care more about celebrating Christ with others and leading people to powerful experiences with Christ rather than monetary or congratulatory rewards. Jesus focused his service on the betterment of others through significant actions with humility, acting as a model for all shepherds. I have had the privilege of witnessing the Holy Cross priests in their selfless service to their ministry at Notre Dame. It has been empowering to me as I share in their ministry.

I believe that this Christ-centered life is something critical to ministerial work, to being an effective minister. When people get too focused on the material, they lose focus of the more important virtues of a life of selfless servitude and have a difficult time fulfilling the rigorous demands of the ministry.

Sharing life with our students takes a lot of work! Developing deep meaningful relationships with proper boundaries requires a lot of maturity, wisdom and guidance. WORK! Authentic relationships need work and harder work to maintain them. All of this hard work points to one thing: relationship with God. It’s hard work but I am finding it in my ministry as the Rector of Duncan Hall.

Wherever I am called, I believe that with time I will gain greater understanding and insight into what God wishes me to do. I believe that over time I will continue to grow in wisdom and understanding to be the person God calls me to be. Discernment is a process the laity and clergy alike must undergo to understand and grow closer to God. My discernment has led me to an understanding of a life of cheerful, selfless servitude that I am continually exploring to better serve God and the Church. Right now, I am lovingly responding to tending the sheep and feeding the flock at Duncan Hall. This reference has significance to our pilgrimage because Fr. John used this teaching in one of the wood panels to test our group. After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to Peter for the first time since Peter’s three denials of Jesus and Jesus asked Peter “do you love me three times” and each time He followed it with “feed my sheep.”

Written by Nhat Nguyen