Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Meet the New Priests

Published June 7, 2012

Father Mark Starr

Age: 51

Birthplace: Nelsonville, Ohio

Grew Up: Galion, Ohio, and Merritt Island, Fla.

Family: Son of Richard and Patricia Starr; four brothers, a brother and sister deceased.

College: Bachelor of mechanical engineering, Georgia Tech, 1993

Career Before Seminary: Owned his own engineering consulting firm in Douglasville; registered professional engineer

Home Parish: St. Theresa Church, Douglasville

What inspired you to explore your vocation as a priest? “I returned to the Catholic faith after several years in Evangelical Protestantism in 2001. I felt I had a call to the priesthood much younger in life, but left the faith during college. When I returned, I met Father Richard Tibbetts, pastor at St. Theresa (Douglasville) and we talked a few times and he encouraged me to explore a possible vocation.  After a few years of discerning, with his encouragement, I applied to the archdiocese in 2006 and was accepted. Basically my cry to the Lord when I returned to the faith was ‘Lord, whatever you want me to do, I will do. I just want to serve you with all my heart.’”

What are you looking forward to as a priest? “Celebrating the sacraments, especially confession and the Eucharist. I also have a heart for those on the outskirts of the faith and our many Hispanic brothers and sisters in Atlanta.”

Challenges: “I think the most challenging thing will be to pace myself to not try to do too much at once and to balance my prayer life along with my priestly duties. I also will have to work hard to remember names and faces. I also desire to continue theological reading/studies and I think it will be challenging to make the time to do so.”

Vesting Priest: Father Brian Wayne of the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pa., a close friend from Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. “I was proud to serve last year as a deacon at his first Mass as a priest, just one week after my ordination to the diaconate.”

First Mass: St. Theresa, Douglasville, home parish for the past 11 years. “The people of St. Theresa have been a tremendous source of strength and support these past six years. It is always a joy to return home and receive so much encouragement from the many parishioners at home.”

Father Tri John-Bosco Nguyen

Age: 36

Birthplace: Pleiku, Vietnam

Grew Up: Saigon, Vietnam; moved to Atlanta in the early 1990s

Family: Son of Matthew Trong Nguyen and Mary Thao Nguyen; two sisters, one brother.

College: Bachelor of science in secondary education, Seton Hall University, South Orange, N.J.; master’s in teaching English as a second language, Georgia State University.

Career Before Seminary: Teacher and college student counselor at St. Joseph School, Marietta; Atlanta Technical College, Atlanta; and Georgia Perimeter College, Dunwoody.

Home Parish: Our Lady of Vietnam Church, Riverdale

What inspired you to explore your vocation as a priest? “First of all, from the examples of St. John Bosco, my patron: a true pastor after the heart of the Good Shepherd Jesus. Also, there was the influence of the Franciscan sisters and priests at my childhood parish in Vietnam, the influence of my parents and grandparents in whose house I grew up, the great influence of the Salesians’ faith formation, both in Vietnam and in the U.S. Since my family moved to the U.S. in 1993, I’ve been practicing my faith and serving in the Eucharistic Youth Movement, an international organization for youth and young adults that is very active in the Vietnamese community.”

What are you looking forward to as a priest? “Sharing the love of God manifested in the Scriptures and the sacraments to people of all age groups, but especially the young and young adults.”

Challenges: “Being a holy priest in the context of the third millennium.”

Vesting Priest: Msgr. Francis Pham Van Phuong, pastor of Our Lady of Vietnam Church. “He is my mentor and spiritual father and has always been a great spiritual leader in our Vietnamese Catholic community in Atlanta that inspires me and my vocation.”

First Mass: Our Lady of Vietnam in Riverdale. “It’s my home parish, where I have worshipped ever since I came to the U.S., where I have built many friendships and great memories.”