Archbishop Alexander Sample will ordain three men as transitional deacons of the Archdiocese of Portland Saturday, May 21, 11 a.m. at St. Mary Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Northwest Portland.

Anthony Hoangphan, Matthew Knight and Efrain Razo will be called “transitional” because they hope to be ordained priests next year.

A native of Vietnam, Hoangphan has been living in Oregon since 1995. He graduated from Portland State University in 2001 and worked in information technology for more than 15 years. In 2001, Hoangphan became a naturalized U.S. citizen. At his home parish, St. Anthony in Tigard, he offered IT help, was a tenor in the choir and a youth leader.

During that parish involvement, Hoangphan sensed God’s calling to priesthood and answered. As a seminarian, he has served in summer assignments at St. Rose of Lima in Portland, St. John the Apostle in Oregon City and St. Joseph in Salem. He spent his pastoral year at St. Anne in Grant Pass.

In 2019, he entered an intensive summer spirituality program in Rome.

“The first day I got there I went to St. Peter’s Basilica and immediately felt like I was at home, that my heart belonged to the faith,” Hoangphan said.

Knight, born and raised in Roseburg, converted to Catholicism in high school, attracted by Catholic teaching and the Eucharist. He intended to study graphic design when a priest asked if he’d considered priesthood.

“I had my own plans for my life, but our good God made it very clear that he was calling, and I knew that my heart would never be at rest until I allowed him to lead me where he would,” Knight said.

He explored contemplative religious life but then discerned a call to diocesan priesthood in western Oregon, impressed by the vision of Archbishop Sample. His pastoral assignments have included summers at St. Stephen in Portland, St. Monica in Coos Bay, youth ministry at St. Mary in Mount Angel and St. Vincent de Paul in Salem and a pastoral internship year at St. Mary in Eugene.

Knight’s mother, Andrea, followed him into full communion with the Catholic Church in 2019, and his grandmother, Pauline, was received in 2021.

Razo, born and raised in Los Angles, discerned a call to priesthood as a boy. “I always wanted to help people and help others find happiness,” he said.

He explored psychology but friends suggested he consider priesthood. He attended Mass and eucharistic adoration then was invited to a Missionaries of the Holy Spirit discernment retreat. He was a brother in that religious community for a decade when the call to parish priesthood emerged again.

“The only way I can describe it is the way the disciples described their feelings after meeting Jesus on the road to Emmaus: ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he spoke to us on the way?’” Razo said. “All I wanted to do was to be with him and do what he wanted.”

To discern, he stepped away from religious life and worked at St. Alexander Parish in Cornelius where he was inspired by Father David Schiferl.

Razo attended a discernment retreat where he met the archbishop and other seminarians. Feeling at home, he applied for seminary.