Deacon Brett Jamrog, left, and Deacon Minh Tran will be ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Omaha June 4 at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha.

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Influences of others lead two men to the priesthood and ordination June 4

One cannot underestimate the impact that other people can have for planting in young men the seeds of priestly vocations – the unspoken examples of good and holy priests, conversations with friends, or even an offhand comment by a homeless person. 

For Transitional Deacons Brett Jamrog and Minh Tran, their journeys to the priesthood followed different paths but converge June 4 at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha. During a 10 a.m. ordination Mass, they will commit their lives to serving the Church and the Catholic faithful of the Omaha archdiocese.

The Mass will be livestreamed at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXT31_TDicHCGBUTX_YeOdw/featured.

A CHANCE ENCOUNTER

Deacon Tran, who grew up in Vietnam, recalls serving Mass for his parish priest and being attracted to the priesthood because of the priest’s example. 

“He was really a holy priest and very kind with the people he served,” he said.

But, as Deacon Tran grew, he forgot such aspirations. He attended college, majored in accounting, took a job, dated and lived a generally secular life.

It was a chance encounter that reignited his childhood leanings toward the priesthood.

“One day, when I gave some money to a beggar, he asked me, ‘Are you the priest?’” It was often a priest who would distribute food and money to the poor of the area, Deacon Tran explained. 

“When I came home, I started thinking a lot about the priesthood again.”

So he consulted a priest he knew who asked him to think and pray about it. That’s what he did for the next couple years.

An internet search for possible religious communities to join finally led him to the Canons Regular of the Order of the Holy Cross, commonly called the Crosiers, in Brazil.

While in formation with that community, Deacon Tran studied in both the Philippines and Brazil. A parish assignment in Brazil led him to discern a preference for the life of a diocesan priest rather than life in a religious community.

In 2015, Deacon Tran came to the United States where he had relatives. He first considered the Lincoln diocese, but eventually applied to become a priest for the Archdiocese of Omaha. He is finishing his seminary studies at Assumption Seminary in San Antonio, Texas.

Deacon Tran looks forward to exercising his priestly ministry in a spirit of love and service. “This is the way to come to holiness and to help the people know God,” he said.

A SIGNIFICANT IMPRESSION

Like Deacon Tran, Deacon Jamrog also formed favorable impressions of the priesthood as an altar server for his parish priest in Madison Lake, Minnesota.

When his family moved to Lincoln, he began school at Pius X Catholic High School, where he was taught by several priests and religious sisters.

One particular priest – Father Benjamin Holdren – made a significant impression, Deacon Jamrog said.

“I got to know him on a personal level, and started to see the priesthood in a new light,” he said. “He is a very prayerful man, and there was something about him that radiated God’s love.”

Although Deacon Jamrog was not yet seriously considering the priesthood, his relationship with Father Holdren opened a door that wasn’t open before.

Later, as a sophomore at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), he made a mission trip to Ukraine, where he learned from the FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) missionaries a deeper form of prayer and learned how to hear God’s voice.

It was during this mission trip that another student suggested he would make a good priest, Deacon Jamrog said.

“Looking back, that played a big role, because I hadn’t heard that from too many people at that point in my life, so it was a deeper realization that maybe I should consider this.”

“I started to have a deeper yearning for the Lord … and started to have deeper habits of prayer,” he said. “And there was a pull in my heart toward the priesthood that I couldn’t really explain.”

Then, during another mission trip, this time to Rwanda, conversations with fellow missionaries who were considering the priesthood convinced Deacon Jamrog to give the priesthood serious consideration.

“During those two-and-a-half weeks, we had a lot of really good talks, and it became clear in my heart that the next step is really to look into it,” he said.

But, even though conversations with a priest at the UNL Newman Center favored entering the seminary, Deacon Jamrog wavered, taking a three-month detour as a FOCUS missionary.

Eventually realizing this was not the Lord’s plan, he visited St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward, Nebraska, and applied as a seminarian for the Lincoln diocese.

After completing his first year there, his family moved to Fremont, and Deacon Jamrog also moved to the Omaha archdiocese and completed his formation at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis.

He now looks forward to celebrating Mass, preaching and counseling people in the confessional.

“I’m really excited to be used as an instrument of God’s mercy,” he said.

 

PERSONAL PROFILES

DEACON BRETT JAMROG

Background: Home parish, St. Patrick, Fremont. Parents, Jeff and Connie Jamrog; sister and brother-in-law, Elizabeth and Mike Thielen, Omaha; brother, Jared Jamrog, Omaha.

Education: University of Nebraska-Lincoln; St. Gregory the Great Seminary, Seward, Nebraska; Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, St. Louis.

Activities/Ministries: Religious education and youth group, St. Andrew Parish, Tecumseh, Nebraska; prayer ministry, Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, Lincoln; youth group, Immaculate Conception Parish, Dardenne Prairie, Missouri; communion calls, Holy Spirit Parish, Maryland Heights, Missouri; religious education teacher, Annunziata Parish, St. Louis; pastoral year at St. Cecilia Parish, Omaha, including teaching in the parish school, helping with the faith formation group, helping lead a Bible study for the young adult group, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) instructor, 7th and 8th grade boys basketball coach, social media administrator, and emcee for Archbishop George J. Lucas; baptisms, youth group, Stations of the Cross and preaching, St. Joseph Parish, Cottleville, Missouri.

Summer assignments: Totus Tuus; Institute for Priestly Formation, Omaha; Spanish immersion, Guatemala; St. Patrick Parish, Fremont; Divine Mercy Parish, Schuyler.

Reflections on ordination: “The current world we live in is very broken, however, I am excited that the Lord has chosen me for this particular moment to be his priest so that I can be his instrument of healing. In particular, I am enlivened to be an instrument of healing through offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and giving people absolution in the sacrament of reconciliation. I am deeply humbled to be ordained a priest! Please pray for me!”

 

DEACON MINH TRAN

Background: Born in Vietnam. Home parish, St. Columbkille, Papillion. Parents, Tran Van Tu and Nguyen Thi Thin; siblings, Tran Le Thu Khoa, Tran Le Phuong Thao, Tran Le Phuong Thuy, Tran Le Minh Quan and Tran Le Hoang Quynh, all Vietnam, and Tran Le Phuong Tram, Houston; uncle and aunt, Luong and Chau Pham, Papillion.

Education: College of Technical Industrial Economics, Vietnam; Institutum Sapientiae-Ordinis Canonicorum Regularium Sanctae Crucis, Brazil; Oblate School of Theology, San Antonio, Texas; Assumption Seminary, San Antonio.

Activities/Ministries: St. Columbkille Parish, Papillion; pastoral year at St. Thomas More Parish, Omaha; pastoral care at Morningside at the Meadows Assisted Living, San Antonio; youth faith formation at San Fernando Cathedral, San Antonio; RCIA at Vietnamese Martyrs Parish, San Antonio; pastoral year at St. Ann Catholic Church, San Antonio and St. Paul Catholic Church, both San Antonio.

Summer assignments: Institute for Priestly Formation, Omaha; St. Bernadette Parish, Bellevue; St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Omaha. St. Patrick Parish, Fremont.

Reflections on ordination: “I choose God’s words for my life and ministry, “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are” (John 17:11). I live like anyone else, but I have my commission; I am a humble servant. As a priest, I will perform pastoral duties sincerely and tirelessly in the spirit of love and service. I pursue holiness to become like Jesus Christ, who continually prays for God’s people and acts in the communication with God to receive the spiritual gift and God’s guidance. I nourish my spiritual life from the two-fold table of Sacred Scripture and the Eucharist; it is a way to the holiness that assists me in teaching, preaching and living in harmony with those I serve. I try to live by burning with Christ’s love to inspire people of God to live for holiness. This is because I have dedicated my life to drawing people closer to God and helping them recognize his love in the world. I desire that my life, ministry and daily activities will be shaped by praying for the salvation of God’s people.”