Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Call Persisted During Career, Parish Service: Father William T. Hao

By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published July 2, 2009

Here was Father Bill Hao’s could-not-fail plan several years ago: Find a nice Catholic lady by attending a discernment group of men and women at Emory University.

He laughs about the idea now.

“The funny thing is God has a sense of humor. It wasn’t my purpose that eventually happened, but his,” said Father Hao, one of eight new priests ordained for the Atlanta Archdiocese on Saturday, June 27.

A string of events in his life led him to serve as a priest, from working with families in need as a St. Vincent de Paul volunteer to teaching religion to middle school students.

“It is really a series of things that all began when I was a little boy,” he said.

A dream as a youngster included a vision of the Blessed Mother. A young couple in need thought he sounded over the phone like a priest who married them. Trying to manage unruly seventh-graders in a religion class, the “smallest boy in the class spoke up and said, ‘You’ll be a good priest.’”

Then there was the time he took Communion to residents in nursing homes. One experience was with an elderly woman.

“The very first time I visited her, she called me Father. I explained to her I wasn’t a priest, but she persisted,” he recalled.

Born in the Philippines, Father Hao is the youngest of eight children of Lily Hao and his deceased father, Roman. He immigrated to the United States in 1990 with his family as they settled in California. A few years later he became an American citizen. He speaks five languages, including two dialects of Chinese because his parents came from China. In fact, Father Hao said he is the first priest ordained here of Chinese descent.

Father Hao, who is 50, is the oldest of the new priests. He said his age is an advantage as he starts his ministry because with age comes valuable life lessons, like his experience in business and owning a home. He also comes to the ministry with a master’s in business administration.

The new priest chose Transfiguration Church in Marietta as his home parish when a job offer lured him to Atlanta. At the parish, he taught religion, volunteered to help needy families and served as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion.

He worked in the technology sector before seminary. He was promoted from a project engineer to a senior-level specialist developing communications computer software for travel industry e-commerce.

As a seminarian, he worked at St. Francis of Assisi Church, Blairsville, and Sacred Heart Church, Atlanta. He also worked with the Missionaries of Charity at their Gift of Grace House where they care for women living with AIDS.

During his year as a transitional deacon, he was assigned to Transfiguration in Marietta and St. Anne Church, Hagerstown, Md.

He attended Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, where he earned a master’s in divinity and a master’s in theology with a concentration in moral theology.

After years of study, Father Hao said he is excited to start his ministry.

“That day of ordination, I will be given a new life to serve God and his people,” he said.

He is inspired by the lives and works of people, from St. Paul to Blessed Mother Teresa and St. Padre Pio. But he knows the spirit of the work is most important.

“It really isn’t worth anything without love,” he said.

First Assignment: St. Theresa Church, Douglasville

Father William T. Hao

Education: Bachelor of science in chemical engineering, University of the Philippines. Master’s in business administration, Ateneo University Graduate School of Business. Master’s in divinity, cum laude, and master’s in theology, summa cum laude, with concentration in moral theology, Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md.

Work Experience: Project engineer, project manager, senior technical specialist at Worldspan, part of a team that developed communications software and provided technical support for communications middleware.

Hobbies and Interests: Theological and spiritual reading, cooking, tennis

Additional Languages: English, Tagalog, Hokkien Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish

Ministries of Interest: Religious education, youth ministry, the sick and the poor

Favorite Quote: Psalm 139

Most Admired: The saints