Nicolaus Thai was born in Saigon, Vietnam in 1984, where he lived until he came to the United States in 2001. During these years in Saigon, Nicolaus received the Sacraments of Initiation and was instructed in the matters of faith. He became an altar server and joined the Eucharistic Youth at his home parish. These experiences instilled in Nicolaus a deep love for the Church and the deeper respect for the priesthood, especially the priests whom he came to know.
Settling in Fountain Valley in 2001, Nicolaus attended Los Amigos High School, Orange Coast College, California State Polytechnic in Pomona, and California State University of Long Beach. Later, he found himself thinking seriously about the Catholic priesthood. After attending the discernment program offered by the Diocese of Orange, supported by family, priests, and friends, Nicolaus began the Pre-Theology program at St. Patrick’s Seminary and University in Menlo Park, California in 2009. After finishing the program in 2011, Nicolaus was transferred to the Pontifical North American College in Rome to begin his theological studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
Martin was born the first of three children into a safe, comfortable, and prayerful family. The only real demand made of him during his adolescent years was to get straight A’s in school. In college, this high intellectual expectation and the resulting stress led him to have recourse to unhealthy outlets, and as a result, he slowly began to distance himself from anything to do with faith.
It was his idea of freedom–an escape from the demands of the Church, the demands of society, the demands of family. To a certain extent, he got what he was looking for. But what he did not expect to come with this was a lingering sense of dread and anxiety about life. He is thankful to God that these feelings stayed with him, because they unconsciously told him that something was wrong.
During this time, he met his future roommate, a non-denominational Christian who challenged him to think more seriously about questions of faith. This, along with his experience of emptiness while in college, pushed Martin along the path of searching for truth and meaning in life. After much research and interior reflection, Martin rediscovered the truth, goodness, and beauty that up to this time had always been his Catholic faith.
Since then, he has sought to echo Mary’s “Fiat,” her act of obedience which allowed for the Word to become incarnate and dwell among us. This “Fiat” has led Martin to St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, where he is discerning the possibility that God may be calling him to serve in His ministerial priesthood, and he has never felt so fulfilled and at peace with his decision. He understands now what freedom truly is–it is obedience to the will of God, the One who created him, and the One for whom he was created.
My vocation story begins with the grace that God poured upon me throughout my life. I was born in Vietnam in 1985. God put in my heart a desire to dedicate my life to serve Him and His people. It began with the desire to serve mass at the altar. At the age of eleven, I was admitted to be an altar server in my parish church. It was the most joyous day of my life. Slowly and strongly, I fell in love with altar serving. I would show up at daily mass just to be called to serve. However, the opportunity to serve was not as often as I had hoped, and many times, I left disappointed. The initial desire to be an altar server cultivated in my heart a strong desire for a life of service to God and His Church. My model at the time was my parish priest. By seeing him living a faithful life of complete dedication to God and his people, my desire to live the same kind of life began to form.
As I prepared for the Sacrament of Confirmation, my heart was lit up with joy and the desire to learn and to know more about the faith. I joined the discernment groups and retreats at my local parish and at the diocesan level. In the summer of 2004, I became a college seminarian for my home diocese of Nha Trang in Viet Nam. I spent two days at the seminary to take tests as part of the application process. I was very proud of myself for passing the tests. But little did I know that God had another plan in place for me. In the fall of 2006, my family moved to the United States.
My vocation began anew in this country, but I always had great faith in the providence of God. It took me seven more years of discernment and study to be ready for this seminary formation. In the fall of 2013, I entered St John’s seminary. As I matured, my vocation began to take shape and through the long discernment process that began in my own parish, the will of God became more and more apparent for me.