WORKING FOR VOCATIONS Father Hau Vu, the newly appointed Vocations Director, is excited to work to bring about more vocations for the Diocese. He believes that multimedia, such as social media and YouTube videos, can be a powerful tool to engage people to consider a vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life.
After the recent retirement of longtime Office of Vocations Director Sister Sarah Shrewsbury, O.S.C., Father Hau Vu has been appointed to serve as the new director of the diocesan office. He also carries the title of Director of Vocations, a post that is typically held by a priest. In this capacity, Fr. Vu will have more interaction with diocesan seminarians and have a greater presence at St. Junipero Serra House of Formation in Grand Terrace.
Fr. Vu was ordained on May 21, 2016. His first assignment was for three years at The Holy Name of Jesus in Redlands. During that time, he was also made the priest chaplain to the Thiếu Nhi Thánh Thể (TNTT), a Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement dedicated to educating and training Vietnamese youths to become better individuals as well as excellent Christians, for the Diocese of San Bernardino.
After three years at The Holy Name of Jesus, Fr. Vu ministered with Sr. Shrewsbury as the Associate Vocations Director. He has served in that position since then.
The BYTE asked Fr. Vu about his reaction to being named Vocations Director and his opinion on the state of vocations in the Diocese.
BYTE: What was your reaction to being appointed the new Vocations Director? Are you excited, and if so, what are you most excited about or looking forward to?
Fr. Vu: My reaction to being named the new Vocations Director was one of excitement mixed with a little bit of fear, fear coming from the fact that I have never been head of a Diocesan Office before and that I wasn’t sure what that would look like. But I was excited because I knew that everything is in God’s hands and, despite my fears, He is the one in control.
That is why I am really looking forward to working with the Holy Spirit to bring about new ways of promoting vocations and a renewed focus on building a culture of vocations here in the Diocese of San Bernardino. I am also looking forward to working with every parish to find out ways in which we can promote holy vocations, whether it is to the priesthood, religious life, marriage or the chaste single life.
BYTE: How do you feel about the state of vocations in the Diocese – optimistic, pessimistic, a bit of both? What are your plans to grow vocations in the Diocese?
Fr. Vu: I feel that the state of the vocations to the priesthood in the Diocese right now can be much better. I am very optimistic, that with the help of all the people – priests, religious, deacons and the laity – we can work together to help encourage and foster more vocations to the priesthood.
I do believe that every parish should be sending at least one man into the seminary and one woman into the religious life. If that isn’t happening, we really have to take a look at what we need to be doing in order to reach that reality. One of the things I am looking forward to is building a culture of vocations in our Diocese, and what that means for me is getting everyone on board with promoting vocations, especially the parish priests.
I believe that we all have a role in calling men and women to discern this beautiful vocation, but what I have discovered from my time as an Associate Vocations Director is that for the majority of those who are discerning the vocation to the priesthood or religious life, their openness to a vocation is due to the fact that a priest or a religious had made the initial contact with them and had encouraged them to discern the possibility of becoming a priest or a religious.
That is why one of my main objectives is to build this culture of vocations within our Diocese by giving priests, religious and laity the resources and tools they need to not only promote vocations in their parishes and ministries but also formation in becoming vocation ministers. These will be resources and tools not only focused on discernment to the priesthood and religious life, but also the diaconate, married life and the chaste single life.
One of my plans that I am working on is to have a way where we can make parents be the first minister of vocations by providing them with the necessary resources so they can start to engage their children about discerning the vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
Another objective of mine is to make the promotion of vocations more visible within our Diocese. The way I have been trying to do this is by incorporating new ways to engage people through social media, website and various multimedia outlets. My hope is that the more they see vocations to the priesthood and religious life as a beautiful and sacred calling, the more they will start to ask, “Maybe God is calling me to be His priest or religious.”
BYTE: Was Sr. Sarah an influence on you as you worked with her as the Assistant Vocations Director? Were there any lessons or things she did well that you want to keep in mind or continue doing?
Fr. Vu: Sr. Sarah was a huge influence on me as I worked with her as the Assistant Vocations Director. She taught me that before we help people discern their “particular vocation” to the priesthood or religious life, we must first help them in their “primary vocation,” which is a call to holiness. And the way we do this is by living a holy life ourselves.
Sr. Sarah really taught me how to be a good vocation director by example. Her constant smile and laughter in the office taught me that our joy as priests or religious is how we first invite people to discern their vocation. No one would consider the priesthood or religious life if they do not see joy in our faces.
Sr. Sarah always reminded me that when we are looking for possible vocations to the priesthood it isn’t about the number of prospects, we have but rather the quality of the men applying for priesthood. Whether we have one or two good men, that is already a reason to give thanks to God.
Sr. Sarah did many good things as a Vocation Director, but one thing in particular that I would like to continue is her mission of building relationships with all people within this Diocese. Whether you are Catholic or non-Catholic, poor or rich, clergy or non-clergy, young or old, of this or that culture, she saw that bringing Christ to all people is the first start in helping people discern their vocation in life. We cannot attract people to the priesthood or religious life if we focus only on a group of people; we must be Christ for all people.
BYTE: What would you say to encourage anyone who may be feeling called to a vocation?
Fr. Vu: If anyone feels that they are being called to the vocation of the priesthood or religious life, I would say, “Do not be afraid because God has chosen you and he will equip you with what you will need to be his priests and religious. There is only one you, and for that reason, God has called you, because there is something only you can give to the Church to build His Kingdom of God here in the Diocese of San Bernardino. So surrender yourself to God and trust in Him.”