Newly ordained priests reflect on their formation and support along the way
June 27, 2022
In Part Two of a series on priestly vocations, newly ordained Fathers Minh Tran and Brett Jamrog shared their thoughts on their vocations and hopes for their future service to the people of God in an interview recorded prior to their June 4 ordination.
Q: How has the Holy Spirit strengthened you on this journey?
Father Tran: During my journey vocation, I believe that the Holy Spirit strengthened my faith when I meditated on the Word of God. Especially when I read the Gospel, the Holy Spirit, the power of the Holy Spirit strengthens my faith and my vocation. That makes me think about God and my vocation, doing ministry in the parish … to open myself to the people that I serve.
Father Jamrog: I would say the words would be “boldness” and “courage.” My vocational journey is a little different than some people because I was not fully living a Catholic life, but I really had this big reversion in college. And so, for me, the Holy Spirit helped me to see the Lord’s plan throughout seminary and gave me that boldness to trust in the journey, the ups and downs, and to continually walk with the Lord each day.
Q: How have your families supported you along the way?
Father Jamrog: My family has been tremendous. When I told my parents that I was going into seminary, I remember that day pretty well. My dad was super excited, my mom was crying she was so excited. So, for me, it’s been that (kind of) support along the way. Sometimes having those conversations, relying on my family, to give me that boost of support. And then also financially helping me out. The diocese has been phenomenal in helping me out, but there’s other additional expenses along the way, phone bill and that kind of stuff. Spiritually, my family has been very supportive … my mom texting me at times, my dad, “I’m praying for you today,” sending me Bible quotes, things like that.
Father Tran: I believe that my parents are a model of faith, love and heart for me to develop, to think about my vocation. When I was a child, my parents always took me to Mass, and we frequently prayed at night. And, when I talk with my parents about desire to become a priest when I was in high school, they were very happy, and they supported me. My siblings also supported me, and when I left Vietnam, they encouraged me to keep faithful to God and faithful to my vocation. I appreciate my family a lot.
Q: A common misconception about the seminary is that people think you’re signing your life away, that once you’re in, you can’t get out. But it’s really about a discernment process. Can you describe that?
Father Jamrog: Yeah. I was fortunate to go to two different seminaries. I went to St. Gregory the Great Seminary first because I started in the Lincoln diocese. Then I switched dioceses after two years and went to Kenrick (-Glennon Seminary). But I remember in the beginning, my first catechism class, the professor was very clear. This is an invitation; you don’t have to do it.
And so, freedom was very much there from the beginning. I’m very blessed that I’ve never really felt that pressure. And I would say, the seminary community is a great place of freedom, of guys helping each other to grow, and freedom to be who are you and the freedom to not feel like you have to be someone else.
Father Tran: I (attended) Assumption Seminary in San Antonio, Texas, where the life of the community helped me develop. For example, the human formation made me to mature in the way I’m thinking about this celibate life, and also the way I live with the brothers in the community. They also teach me how to be open with the lay people outside of the parish.
At Assumption Seminary, we had the bilingual (education). Many seminarians come from another country, and sometimes I have difficulties with the cultural integration. And I believe that the formation in Assumption Seminary is the way to form the international student …. That’s why I then adapt to the way that they teach me. They formed me and they transformed me to be the good servant of the Lord.
Q: What parishes will you each be going to?
Father Jamrog: I’m really excited to be going to Norfolk. I never spent too much time in the town, but I know they have the high school up there. There’s Hispanic ministry, a hospital. There’s also Battle Creek and Madison, other areas they serve, so I’m sure I won’t be bored. I’ve gotten very excited to get into the community and serve in whatever way they want me to.
Father Tran: When I talk with archbishop, and he told me that I will go to Fremont, it was a surprise because I worked last year in the summer for two months. So, I know Father Nolte. I know the associate priest there and I make friends with some people that I serve over there, especially the way (they) go to the homebound. That made me very surprised because Fremont not so big, but many people live in the nursing home.
Father Jamrog: What’s interesting is both Minh and I will be in a similar environment, where you have a high school, K through 12, and a Hispanic ministry. So, it’ll be great to kind of talk to each other, like, “Hey, how’s it going? What have you been spending your time doing?” That kind of thing.
Q: What (did) you guys look forward to on ordination day?
Father Tran: It’s a long time I desired to become a priest and the day for my ordination is a day for thanksgiving to the Lord that makes my desire to come true. And also, this is the day for my parents, my family, … they are very happy about this. But for myself, I get a little nervous … stepping into the new life for me, the new priest, I feel a little anxiety. What will I do? And how good will I live with the pastor? And the people, what they are thinking about myself? I talk about this with the archbishop. He said, “Don’t worry, everything will be right you will find.”
Father Jamrog: A lot of things to look forward to. I’m grateful to be able to be the Lord’s priest and to receive that sacred power – to be able to have that power to hear confessions and to be that Lord’s instrument of mercy. In my own life I’ve experienced a lot of transformation through the confessional. So, I’m excited to be Jesus in that moment for people. And then all the other blessings of being a priest, I’m just excited for. To be able to say Mass and looking to the sick – so many opportunities that’ll come through the priesthood. I’m excited. It’s hard to put words to it really. It doesn’t do it justice.
Q: Is there anything else you guys would like to add?
Father Tran: For me, I appreciate the Archdiocese of Omaha that allowed me and accepted me to be a seminarian. Now they ordain me to become a priest. And I thank the archbishop, and also Father Roza, the vocation director. He attempted to take care of all of us, especially for myself. He even asked me to feel comfortable to live here … don’t be afraid with another culture, but to be who I am. And I thank a lot of the Knights of Columbus members that supported me during the time when I study and also some priests that know about myself.
Father Jamrog: I would just say again, I’m very grateful to the Archdiocese of Omaha for taking me. The archbishop, throughout this journey, has been patient with me and been a good father. I think the last thing is just encouraging the people of God to continually pray for priests, to pray for vocations. I know we do that in a lot of communities, but I do believe that we’re going to see more men say yes. But keep praying for those men.