Earlier this spring, Father Rafael Becerra told the St. Rose of Lima community that effective Aug. 5, he would become the pastor of St. Jerome Church in Houston. To replace him, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo has announced the appointment of Father Linh Nguyen as the new pastor of St. Rose of Lima Catholic Community.
Nguyen comes to St. Rose from St. John of the Cross in New Caney, where he had been since 2014. His biography on the St. John's website says he was born Feb. 12, 1969 in Dien Khanh county, Khanh Hoa province, Vietnam.
According to the bio, when the Viet Cong invaded and took over South Vietnam in 1975, Nguyen’s father, who was a lieutenant colonel with the local government, was imprisoned in a labor camp and later died. Their family home and property was also seized by the Viet Cong.
“Our lives were strongly controlled and isolated by the local government,” the younger Nguyen wrote.
The government allowed every son and daughter of former officers to continue their education up to high school, although college was prohibited for children of ex-Army officers of the Republic of Vietnam, according to the bio.
Nguyen wrote that in 1993, his family immigrated to the U.S. through the Humanitarian Operation (HO) program.
“This marked a major turning point in my life and also of my family,” he said. “During (our) first year in Cincinnati, I studied English at the Travelers Aid International in downtown Cincinnati, (which was) a school that teaches English as a second language.”
Nguyen attended the University of Cincinnati and graduated with a chemistry major in 1998 before working as a chemist.
“I thought something was missing in my life,” he wrote in his bio. “I did not feel a sense of fulfillment. I realized that God was asking me to do something more - to devote myself to serving Him and the Church.”
After graduating from Mount Saint Mary's Seminary with a master's in Divinity and Biblical Studies, Nguyen was ordained in 2006.
After 15 years in Cincinnati, Nguyen came to the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and has previously been assigned Parochial Vicar at St. Martha Church in Kingwood from 2008-11, and St. John Newmann Church from 2011-14.
St. Rose will host a gathering to meet the new pastor in the coming days.
The departing "Father Rafa," as he is known, said he loved being a part of the St. Rose community.
“I would like to express my gratitude and support to all of you during these last six years,” he said. “If God calls me to move on and continue my ministry in another parish, my answer is as Jesus said, ‘I am here to do your will, not my will.’”