Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Preparing Himself to Serve: A Hilltop Profile of Br. Joseph Mary Tran, OCD

by Br. Jesus Romo, MSpS

Br. Joseph Mary Tran belongs to the Discalced Carmelite Friars, and he is currently studying in Pre-Theology II at Mount Angel Seminary.  Three main things move him to give the best of himself in the academic formation: work for the salvation of souls, being able to help others, and trying to do the will of God.

Seminary Formation

Br. Joseph Mary really likes to study at Mount Angel Seminary because of the ambience of peace and prayer.  For him this aspect is really important, as he mentioned that “this place helps you not only to study but also to pray and through prayer get the strength to do your studies.”

Brother Joseph Mary Tran

Br. Joseph Mary said that communication will be very important for his future priestly ministry; therefore, during his academic formation he has been taking some courses to help him communicate in a better way.  For example, he took grammar classes last year to improve his writing skills, and he is currently taking Fundamentals of Speech to help him deliver clear messages to the people he will minister to in the future.

His interest in becoming a better public speaker is noticeable to Ms. Kathy Akiyama, his Fundamentals of Speech professor. Ms. Akiyama mentioned that he is not required to take this course; however, “it is impressive how motivated he is to improve his public speaking,” she said.

A good speaker is the one who knows who his audience is and what they need to hear. Ms. Akiyama said that Br. Joseph Mary is already a good public speaker because he is not individualistic but he thinks about who his audience is.    

She considers Br. Joseph Mary a hard worker and responsible student since “as a result of his motivation he does everything on time and he is always in the classroom early.”

It is not difficult for Br. Joseph Mary to interact with people, and he is a community-oriented person. This aspect of his personality will be beneficial in his formation and for his ministry as a future priest.

He also knows how to deal with different personalities because he has experience working in customer service.  Br. Joseph Mary worked as a systems engineer for five years in a company called Dimension Data.  There he had the opportunity to answer phone calls and also present computer programs to customers.

Due to his experience as a systems engineer he has the ability to operate different computer programs, and he is very good at using technology.  Br. Joseph Mary recognizes this ability as a gift from God which he uses to help other seminarians, showing them how to use different computer programs and fixing technical problems.

He is an open-minded person who desires to work with different cultures and in different languages.  He took two semesters of Spanish classes last year, and he desires to continue learning the language in order to be able to celebrate Mass, hear confessions and give spiritual direction in Spanish.

Some Challenges

Br. Joseph Mary has been a student in Mount Angel Seminary since the fall of 2015.  Because he had a bachelor degree he began his academic studies in Pre-Theology, and he is still taking three philosophy courses.

He recognizes that philosophy is a challenge for him since he prefers not to get into arguments. Because of this he has to put in extra effort in order to develop philosophical skills.

Br. Joseph Mary finds his writing difficult because it takes him a lot of time.  “I find it difficult to put my ideas out on paper,” he mentioned.

To help his formation, the seminary assigned Br. Joseph Mary a ministry at St. Mary’s Parish in Mount Angel where he is going to be working with a high school youth group once a week.  The youth group works with a program called Alpha which allows the youth to share their opinions about the Catholic faith in small groups.

He will be facilitating the opportunity for the youth to participate, and he might have to lead one of the small groups.  This is Br. Joseph Mary’s first time serving in a youth group; therefore, he feels challenged but at the same time excited and grateful for this opportunity to learn from young people.

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