Called and chosen: Three new Archdiocesan priests to be ordained June 1

May 14, 2024

HOUSTON -  Three young men — one raised by a single mother of four, another by his Vietnamese refugee parents, and a former college baseball player — are excitedly giving their lives to God and His people when ordained to the priesthood on June 1. 

Now transitional deacons, Deacons Luis Armas, Viet Nguyen and David Ramirez, are busy finishing their final exams, moving from St. Mary’s Seminary dorm rooms, and preparing for their ordinations presided by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in downtown Houston.

Deacon Armas, 30, said he first heard God calling when he attended a Holy Name retreat in Houston and was reading the Bible during Adoration in the chapel. “The reality hit me that God knows me. Here I was a college baseball player asking God what is it that You want me to do?” he said.

Deacon Armas added that he then saw flashes of himself in succession, dressed in a clerical shirt and vested as a priest celebrating Mass. He asked, “Lord, are you serious?”

Deacon Nguyen, 28, said tragedy pushed him to review his life and deal with any sins that were preventing him from loving fully. A Texas A&M University student of biology, Nguyen worked as a dental hygienist, making a good living. But then his girlfriend of three years was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and died by age 30.

“I was mourning her death, and it made me think that there had to be more to life than earning money and working, and then we die,” Deacon Nguyen said.

He attended a Café Catholica in 2017, an annual series of gatherings for young Catholics. At the event, then-Archdiocesan director of vocations, Father T.J. Dolce was celebrating Mass and recommended that those discerning religious life to read the book “To Save 1,000 Souls.”

“I read it, and it spoke to the yearning in my heart,” said Deacon Nguyen, who graduated from cleaning teeth to cleaning souls. Following his upcoming ordination, Deacon Nguyen will be the first priestly vocation from his home parish of Ascension Chinese Mission in Houston.

Deacon Ramirez, 28, said God’s calling came to him throughout his childhood, being the oldest of four raised by a devout single mom. “She told us that she couldn’t give us wealth, but she could focus on forming our faith. So, she took us to confession and Adoration, and I began serving at Masses.”

“Even as a child, I played at being a priest with potato chips as the Eucharist and my sister being an altar server,” Deacon Ramirez said and chuckled.

After all the studying and serving as transitional deacons at their assigned parishes, the trio credit their mentoring pastors in also preparing them. Deacon Armas, in his first pastoral assignment at St. Faustina parish, thanked Father Dat Hoang, pastor of St. Faustina and also a former vocations director for the Archdiocese.

“Connecting with families is one of the most important duties. People are willing to be vulnerable with a priest when they see I have given all my trust to the Lord,” Deacon Armas said.

Deacon Nguyen learned a whole different aspect of the Archdiocese when he served his pastoral year with Father Jude Ezuma, pastor in Galveston of the Holy Family Parish, a group of churches on the island.

“It is such a historic parish and churches that were the beginning of the diocese in Galveston and Houston. The generations of families and friendships show such true community — so beautiful,” Deacon Nguyen said.

Deacon Ramirez called his pastoral year at St. Martha Catholic Church in Kingwood with pastor Father T.J. Dolce as “the most amazing and joyful year of my life.”
“Father helped me with my struggles in the beginning to trust in the Lord and the way He can use me, not comparing myself to others,” he said.

Deacon Ramirez added, “We ask for the grace to always be faithful and allow ourselves to be His vessel to use us for His people.”

The Ordination Mass will be livestreamed online at, beginning at 10 a.m. on June 1.