Here is Peter Hoang’s counsel for young men wondering about seminary: “Don’t be afraid. See how wonderful God is. See how wonderful a vocation is. The more afraid we are, the less we will get out of anything.”
Hoang, a 26-year-old member of Our Lady of Lavang Parish in Portland, has set aside fears, doubts and sense of unworthiness and is advancing through seminary for the Archdiocese of Portland. He’s now serving an internship year at The Madeleine Parish.
“I can see how people really need priests,” he says. “The priesthood is a connection between them and God. Maybe God called me to be that instrument.”
Born in Vietnam, Hoang came to Portland in 1996 at age 11. He grew up in the Gregory Heights neighborhood and attended Grant High School.
Throughout his youth, he was an altar server and enthusiastic catechism student at Our Lady of Lavang. He always felt privileged to stand so near the altar during the celebration of the Eucharist.
“The beauty of the liturgy grabbed me,” he says, explaining that he sensed a vocation even as a child. “As a boy, I could see the importance of priests.”
A cloud of people at Our Lady of Lavang — including parish priests, nuns, parishioners and his large devout family — encouraged him to consider priesthood.
He entered Mount Angel College, but left after two years, wanting to mature before making such a decision. He finished school elsewhere, worked and traveled back to Vietnam and other parts of Asia. Seeing the vibrant and growing church in developing nations caused his awareness of vocation to surge. Priests are vital to life, he realized.
Hoang returned to the U.S. and was enrolled in seminary again.
During his pastoral internship, he has led faith formation classes, instructed people who want to become Catholic and visited the sick and homebound. He attends meetings of the pastoral council and the school board, seeing how parishes operate. He is enjoying the work and looks forward to what the future holds.
“Anywhere you are, people are hungry for spirituality and they need a connection,” he says. “Priesthood is where people can find that connection.”