26th Sunday of Ordinary Time

A HALF CUP OF INSPIRATION WITH FR. STEVE NYL, C.SS.R.:

“We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” These words of T.S. Eliot speak to my experience whenever I arrive to minister in a new place. I have been in Baton Rouge a little less than 3 weeks at this writing, but already have family and friends asking what it’s like here. I usually just tell them that I don’t know because I’m in process of figuring it out.

For me a ministry location isn’t so much defined by the place as much as by the people. And so it takes time for me to come to know all of you and you to get to know me. It is in relationship with one another, and together in relationship with the Lord, that we come to truly know how to answer the question. So let me briefly introduce myself: I am Fr. Steve Nyl, a Redemptorist for 22 years and ordained a priest for 18 years. I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and grew up on a dairy farm. Following high school I worked in a factory for four years before furthering my education. Then I taught middle and high school for 12 years. Thinking I had set the course for my life, God stepped in one day out of the blue and changed everything. Following his call (eventually), I entered formation with the Redemptorists. have served in Denver, Colorado, Whittier, California (outside of Los Angeles) and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Now I am here in Baton Rouge. Thanks to those I have met who have made me feel so welcome. And I look forward to meeting you all in the upcoming days.

24th Sunday of Ordinary Time

A HALF CUP OF INSPIRATION WITH FR. TAT:

While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. (Luke 15:1-32)

When was the last time you felt the love of your own father or mother or your God like the merciful father in the parable this week? The father was waiting and longing to see his youngest son to come back. He might sit outside and imagine the image of the son to return “home.” It seemed that he could not live with out his son. He patiently waited and prayed for his own son to unite with the family.

If you are a parent, when was the last time you longed and prayed for your own child to come home with you? This question touches many hearts of parents. During the discussion of the group “The Word of God”, one person was touched by the question raised: What do wish to do to finish your project of your life here on earth? She thought and shared, “I wish and pray that all my children and grandchildren will be guided by God to stay away from all temptations and to go to church.” She shared in mixed tears of joy and fear.

Our God is the Good God, who always forgives us and loves us no matter what we did. In the parable, the father did not waste a second to ask his youngest son what he did with his money and time. “He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.”God is merciful, compassionate and forgiving. It depends on us to stand up, trust and return to our loving God or not.

I wish and pray that the Church also immitates from God to be able to open our hearts to embrace all types of people no matter what they said or did in public polictically and relationally. Let us overcome our own moral, devotional and legal prejudices in order to welcome and reconcile one another in our country, community and family.

– Fr. Tat Hoang, C.Ss.R.

23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

A HALF CUP OF INSPIRATION WITH FR. TAT:

“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25-33)

One of the comments I’ve received when I moved to St. Gerard’s in Baton Rouge to work for the next four years is “Fr. Tat, you will be close to your family. You can go to New Orleans every week to visit your Mom and your family.” That is true and not true.

It is true because yes, it is much more convinient to drive home to see Mommy in New Orleans. It takes me only one hour and 30 minutes. I will enjoy Mom’s food more easily compared with the last times when I stationed in Chicago and New York City.

But it is not true because I am a Redemptorist missionary. I belong to everyone. Wherever I am sent, I call it home for myself. Every parishioner is part of my family. I cannot go “home” to see my Mom whenever I want to. My Mom has sacrificed me for God and God’s people. She’s offered me to God to serve the Church since I entered into the Redemptorist formation in 1998.

The most difficult cross for those who want to follow Jesus is not about the cross of family but the cross of their own. Mom, Dad and family may pass on. But our own cross never goes away. It stays with us until we die. The late Vietnamese Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan wrote in Road of Hope, “If you do not give up your own self, you will eventually collect everything you gave up back to yourself.”

Who wants to become Jesus’ disciple? To follow Jesus we need to dedicate our whole life and intention. There is no distraction. There is no “maybe” or “50-50” or “one day per week”. It takes daily practices and discipline. We do not need to go to seminary or convent to become Jesus’ disciples. You can be a great disciple of Jesus where you are and with the people you live and work. Be generous and grateful to all. May we all believe in Jesus and follow him.

– Fr. Tat Hoang, C.Ss.R.

22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

A HALF CUP OF INSPIRATION WITH Fr. TAT

My child, conduct your affairs with humility,  and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God. (Sirach 3:17-18)

Happy Labor Day Holiday to all!

Labor day is a holy day. It is a sacred day. And I hope everyone has a chance to rest and to celebrate with your families, loved ones and friends. Working is necessary and essential in our lives. St. Paul said, “Those who do not work should not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). However, resting is also important for our health, happiness and holiness. “God rested on the seventh day” (Genesis 2:2).

The book of Sirach taught us about the outcomes of the humility of our activities, works and relationships. If we conduct our affairs with humility and gratitude, we will be loved more than a giver of gifts. A humble person will be great and find favor with God.

Many times we work and work for the sake of survival and temporary security. Some don’t even find joy and meaning in what they are doing. Saint Alphonsus said, “If you can find a right vocation for yourself, you will have eternal happiness.”

I am so glad to “work” at St. Gerard Majella community. I felt at home and happy here when I arrived. I felt a warm welcome like my own sisters and brothers. I do not feel that I am “working”. I feel like I just “live out” my call, my life and God’s mission with the people that God has sent to me everyday. I enjoy it very much.

I pray and wish that God continuously blesses all the workers: Constructors, doctors, nurses, scientists, teachers, janitors, bus drivers, bookkeepers, employers and employees, farmers, first responders, students, mothers and fathers. Because of them, we are here today.

I personally thank all parishioners of St. Gerard’s, especially ushers, altar servers, lectors, parish and finance councils, secretary, bookkeeper, groundskeeper, our cook and cleaners, for working very hard to sustain our community. May we all find joy, meaning and blessing in all things we do.

Fr. Tat Hoang, C.Ss.R.