Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Darnell Miller, University of St. Thomas

1/10/2013 (1 year ago)

University of St. Thomas (stthom.edu)

Vocations thrive at UST!

The measure of any great Catholic university is the quality of vocations being produced at the institution. Here at the University of St. Thomas, we have had a number of strong vocations, to both married and religious life, cultivated on campus. The Basilian Fathers, founders of the University, are continuing a 200-year legacy of providing a strong Catholic education and leading individuals to Christ.

Pictured left to right: Hoc Minh Nguyen, Steven Huber, Kittisak Chooklin

Pictured left to right: Hoc Minh Nguyen, Steven Huber, Kittisak Chooklin

Highlights

By Darnell Miller, University of St. Thomas

University of St. Thomas (stthom.edu)

1/10/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in College & University

Keywords: University of St. Thomas, UST, Basilians, Seminarian, Vocations, Basilian Novices, St. Mary's Seminary, Houston, Fr. Chris Valka, St. Anne's Catholic Community, Discernment, Center for Faith and Culture, Rev. Donald Nesti, Basilian Order, the congregatio


This, however, would not be possible without the young men and women who are willing to dedicate their lives to the service of others and to the three pillars of the Basilian way of life: goodness, discipline, and knowledge.

"Every faithful Catholic, man or woman, should strongly consider, at least once in their life, a religious vocation. Whether it is to the priesthood or the convent," said Rev. Micheal Buentello, CSB. "We are in need of individuals who respond to that calling. That is why I pray for vocations to come out of UST at every Mass."

According to a recent United States Conference of Catholic Bishops statistic, the number of priests, both diocesan and orders, has dropped slightly, from 40,271 in 2011 to 40,203 in 2012. The number of seminarians has also decreased, with most of the decline occurring among religious-orders, falling from 5,247 in 2011 to 5,015 in 2012.

While vocations to the Basilian order are not as robust as they once were, the University is blessed to have three Basilian Novices enrolled in classes on campus. These young men come from different walks of life: Hoc Minh Nguyen was a data analyst; Kittisak Chooklin was a math teacher, and Steven Huber was a choir teacher.

The novices are in their second year of discernment, a seven-year process where they learn about the order and their calling. Discernment begins with a year as an Associate, at which time they live in community with the Basilians to better understand the order. The following year, they enter the Novitiate, where they focus on meditation and prayers. If they still feel called, they apply to Scholastic, a four-year period where the candidate studies philosophy, theology and learns how to properly administer the sacraments. Next, they are ordained as deacons and participate in a year of pastoral work as a deacon before taking their final vows at priestly ordination.

The novices are currently studying in the Center for Faith and Culture under the tutelage of the Rev. Donald Nesti, CSSp.

Although their stories are different, they share a common goal: to serve and bring others to Christ.

Hoc Minh Nguyen

Nguyen, originally from Saigon, Vietnam, began to feel his call to the priesthood at the age of 18. He first heard about the Basilian order while attending the Basilian-run parish of St. Anne Catholic Community on Westheimer Road in Houston. There, he began to learn about the order and found that the charisms of the order- education and evangelization- aligned with his aspirations.

For Nguyen, the discernment of his vocation has meant a journey to know self, to understand his strengths and weaknesses, as well as his desires and his relationship with God.

Kittisak Chooklin

Chooklin was born into a Buddhist family in Bangkok, Thailand, and converted to Catholicism when he was 16. His conversion came while studying the Christianity section of World Religions. While reading, Chooklin felt a strong call to become a Christian, and as a result, stayed up until 5 a.m. the following day praying to the "Christian God" he did not yet know.

His prayers led him to Catholicism, and after seeking advice from a Catholic classmate, he began attending Holy Redeemer, a Catholic church nearby the U.S. Embassy.

"After a series of questions, I was informed that I should take Catechism classes, so I would spend my Saturdays meeting with a priest who catechized me," Chooklin said.

While going through catechism, Chooklin was asked to meet with the Redemptorist community and consider becoming a priest. At the time, he told them he was not interested. It wasn't until years later, having moved to Houston and teaching math at a middle school, that he began to discern a calling to the priesthood. After becoming a parishioner at St. Anne's, and learning more about the Basilian order, Chooklin applied to the order. 

Steven Huber

Huber, an Albuquerque, N.M., native, began to consider the priesthood as a young boy when parishioners noticed his devotion as an altar boy. While on a retreat in college, he began to experience a call to the religious life, but didn't pursue the call for several years.

"The hardest part of was taking the first step to sign up for the Vocation Discernment Retreat," Huber said. "Once I realized that discernment is less about becoming a priest and more about whether or not God is calling you to the next step, the discernment process has become easier."

Huber was first introduced to the Basilian order through his father, who had attended a Basilian high school in Merrillville, Ind. His first formal connection was not developed until he was attending New Mexico State University, where the Basilian Fathers ran the Newman Center. The Rev. Chris Valka, one of the Basilian priests, recognized Huber's potential after reading several papers and articles he had written and suggested to Huber that he would make a good priest.

"Fr. Chris encouraged me to visit with the Basilian vocation director, and once I saw the sense of brotherhood and community that the Basilians have, I felt at home," said Huber.

The Congregation of St. Basil is an active, apostolic community of priests and students seeking the glory of God in the works of education and evangelization. Founded in France in the early 19th century, the order has since spread, first to Canada and then the United States. Now in five countries, the order's schools, colleges and parishes express commitment to Christ the Teacher and the desire to serve in imitation of Him.

For more information on the Basilian Order or to discuss vocations, contact the Rev. Mike Buentello, CSB at 713-525-3589.

---
Pictured left to right: Hoc Minh Nguyen, Steven Huber, Kittisak Chooklin

---

The University of St. Thomas, dedicated to educating leaders of faith and character, is a private institution committed to the liberal arts and to the religious, ethical and intellectual tradition of Catholic higher education. St. Thomas is Houstonís only Catholic University and was founded by the Basilian Fathers.



Comments


More College & University

Franciscan nun becomes first woman head of a pontifical university Watch

Image of Sister Melone is an alumnus of the university set up in 1890 in honor of St Anthony, a 13th century saint from Spain known for his forceful preaching and expert knowledge of the Bible.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education made history last week when it nominated a Franciscan nun as the first woman head of a pontifical university. In a position held usually by priests, Sister Mary Melone will become the rector of the Pontifical ... continue reading


University of St. Thomas Graduates First Nursing Cohort in 25 Years

Image of University of St. Thomas Nursing Graduate, Elizabeth Ciocco

By Darnell Miller - University of St. Thomas

This May 27 nursing students, including Elizabeth Ciocco, will be the first nursing students to graduate from the University of St. Thomas in nearly 25 years.  Ciocco joins 298 undergraduates and 739 graduates at the University's 64th Commencement ... continue reading


University of St. Thomas Honors Research Goes 6 Feet Under

Image of Honors Program students consider the issues of death and mortality in the Contemporary Seminar research presented at UST's Research symposium.

By Brenda Cooper, University of St. Thomas

A few hundred people have undergone cryopreservation procedures since 1962, having their bodies cooled to sub-zero temperatures, with the hope that one day they may be brought back to life using highly advanced technology. It's the kind of issue-along with assisted ... continue reading


What the devil?! Bill Gates wants your college info so he can tell you what classes to take Watch

Image of Bill Gates could do so much more if only he had your privacy.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It might be easier to compose a short list of people and agencies that don't want to spy on you. Adding his name to the long list, Bill Gates has proposed tracking the lives and careers of college graduates as an ongoing means to assess college value. Of course, they'd ... continue reading


Two Cardinals, a Theologian and a Historian to Lecture at the University of St. Thomas

Image of N.T. Wright, one of the world's leading Bible scholar.

By Darnell Miller, University of St. Thomas

The University of St. Thomas is fortunate to have four outstanding speakers giving lectures on campus in the month of March. These speakers include N.T. Wright, one of the world's leading Bible scholars; Thomas Cardinal Collins, the Archbishop of Toronto; Dr. Andrew ... continue reading


Women Succeed in UST Engineering, CUA is New Partner

Image of Kendall Niemann is a UST cooperative engineering student studying at the University of Notre Dame.

By Brenda Cooper, University of St. Thomas

In the male-dominated field of engineering, it can be difficult for women to succeed, but last year, all four graduates of the University of St. Thomas cooperative engineering program were women, and three of them were Hispanic. Dr. Sheila Waggoner said she is proud of ... continue reading


Mardi Gras King, Queen Exemplify UST Mission

Image of University of St. Thomas Mardi Gras King and Queen, C.J. Miller and Meredith Smith.

By Vivian Cabrera - University of St. Thomas

The ideal Mardi Gras king and queen should embody the University's mission to educate leaders of faith and character. With the crowning of C.J. Miller and Meredith Smith The ideal Mardi Gras king and queen should embody the University's mission to educate leaders of ... continue reading


40 Celts March for Life in Washington

Image of Students from the University of St. Thomas - Houston, brave the cold weather as they march with nearly half a million others from across the country, declaring their pro-life stance.

By Brenda Cooper, University of St. Thomas

It didn't matter that when 40 college students boarded a bus in Washington, D.C., the temperature was in the teens. It also didn't matter that they had spent the night on blankets and in sleeping bags in cold elementary school classrooms, sans showers, at a parish ... continue reading


GRACE Goes International With Irish Teachers

Image of Pictured from L to R: Colm Supple, Mary Buckley and Sarah Tighe.

By Darnell Miller

In May 2013, merely two weeks after completing final exams, Mary Buckley, Colm Supple and Sarah Tighe, graduates from Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, Ireland, packed their bags and said goodbye to their friends, family and homeland as they journeyed 4,479 miles to ... continue reading


Seven in 10 college students graduate with loan debt Watch

Image of An independent analysis of federal data has revealed that more than 70 percent of college graduates in 2012 had student loans.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There was a time in America when graduating from college meant freedom and unlimited vistas. A sheepskin in the hand was the ticket to new challenges and rewarding careers. That's not true for seven out of 10 college students, who now are burdened with student ... continue reading


All College & University News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 2:1-5
1 Now when I came to you, brothers, I did not come ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 119:97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102
97 How I love your Law! I ponder it all day ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:16-30
16 He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 1st, 2014 Image

St. Giles, Abbot
September 1: St. Giles, Abbot (Patron of Physically Disabled) Feast day - ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter