By Barb Arland-Fye
DAVENPORT — Father Joseph Thien V. Nguyen began his orientation day at diocesan headquarters in a leading role: presiding at Mass in the chancery’s chapel.
But from the close of Mass to the end of the work day July 14, he immersed himself in the learning mode: listening to diocesan staff and department heads describe how they serve clergy and laity in the parishes. He received packets of information, policy and procedure manuals. It was a lot of information to absorb, but the Davenport Diocese’s newest priest, ordained May 22, believes orientation day was beneficial.
“The most important thing I learned from the orientation (was being assured) that I am not alone in the field of doing ministries. There are many sources, many people who are working hard and are ready to be
a source for me anytime when I am in need of support in my priesthood’s ministries,” said Fr. Nguyen, parochial vicar of Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton.
“I was really impressed when Bishop (Martin Amos) gave me his personal cell phone number and told me to call him anytime when I need his help. It absolutely took away my nervousness and anxiety when I first came to the parish. Thanks be to God for everyone.”
Fr. Nguyen visited with members of the Social Action Department; Bishop Amos; Vicar General Msgr. John Hyland; the Faith Formation Department; Deacon Frank Agnoli, director of liturgy and of deacon formation; Chief Financial Officer and Vice Chancellor Char Maaske; Laurie Hoefling, staff support in the Communications Department; and Development Director Sister Laura Goedken, OP.
During his visit with Faith Formation staff, Fr. Nguyen learned about a wide range of learning opportunities. IlaMae Hanisch, Adult and Family Formation/Lay Ministry coordinator, shared information about the Ministry Formation Program (MFP) and marriage preparation. Pat Finan, Faith Formation and Youth Ministry coordinator, told the new priest:
“Our vision as a staff is lifelong faith formation. We’re trying to get beyond the mindset that it’s just kids or that confirmation is the end of it.” The diocese’s new superintendent of schools, Lee Morrison, invited Fr. Nguyen to visit the Catholic schools often. Faith Formation Director Mary Wieser spoke about plans for certification and enhanced training for catechists. Maintaining a Catholic identity requires teachers and volunteer catechists to be well educated about the Catholic faith, she said.
“Each department reviewed the services they offer,” said Maaske, who organized the orientation day.
“I reviewed the full cost the diocese had paid for his education, health and stipends, which Father found interesting. I encourage new priests to support the Annual Diocesan Appeal because it covers these types of expenses that benefit the entire diocese. I reviewed the collaboration needed among the parish lay directors, finance council members, boards of education and parish council members.”
The success of previous orientation sessions underscores their value. “Priests have told us how much it helped them in their work. We can tell because of the excellent follow–up at their parish,” Maaske said.