by Con McHugh and John McCarthy

The Parishes of Christ the King, Kingstanding, and Our Lady of the Assumption, Maryvale, celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving for the Silver Jubilee of Fr Joseph Thé-Quang Nguyen (known as Fr Thé). The Mass, at Christ the King, was held at 3pm on Sunday 11th June 2023, the Feast of Corpus Christi.

Fr Thé celebrated the Mass with many of his priestly friends concelebrating with him. (The link to the full live stream recording of the Mass is below). In the congregation were his family, friends, parishioners,and parishioners from his former parishes.  All those present had come to say ‘thank you’ and to pray for Fr Thé’s continued Ministry.

Fr Thé was appointed the 12th Parish Priest of Christ the King in November 2019 some 4 months before the first Covid lockdown. His previous parish was St Johns in Alton, Staffordshire. In times gone by Christ the King used to have up to three Priests!! Fr Thé is also Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Assumption (Maryvale). Now it’s one Priest for two parishes.

The photographs (link below) include the order of service and show that some of the hymns were sung in his native language. The first reader was David McLoughlin, one of his former Tutors from Oscott, and the second reader was Paul Kelly, a fellow student at Oscott.

Following communion John McCarthy (Parishioner) gave an enlightening overview of what Fr Thé has achieved during his Priestly life to date: “He's been here for three and a half years. We hardly saw him for nearly two and a half years, so how could we learn anything about him?”

“It took a couple of years to meet many of his parishioners, during which time what he could do was limited to numbers set by the guidelines at the time. However this did not stop his ministry”

John remarked:

“Three and a half years on, he knows us for better or worse, and we know him. I would suggest for the better. And the proof of the pudding is the church is full today to give both parishes the chance to express our gratitude for the amount of work he has done to build a better community and bring us back together.”

John praised the volunteers who supported Fr Thé in the running of the Parish. He especially thanked Margaret Rochford who had helped in organising this celebration:

“she's in the background, the person with her hands on the steering wheel and suggest what he should do and what he shouldn't do and who is also supported by a group of people who help him do the many, many jobs that need to be done in a parish. However he is very much his own man in guiding the development of the community.”

John continued and thanked David McLoughlin for his insight on Fr Thé much of which is quoted below:

“He was one of the brightest students of his generation”

”He's got hidden depths and talents, for example did you know he is a skilled practitioner of Tai Chi.

“From his father, who was skilled in the Chinese traditions of eastern medicine Thè had learned some of the skills of a healer and naturopath and also the Martial art of Tai Chi. Thè used to practice the Yang Form of Tai Chi movements in the large aula/lecture theatre at Oscott.

“When you meet Father Thé the first impression is of a smiling and charming man of quiet presence. In this he exemplifies one of the core principles of Tai Chi “wu-wei”, effortless action. It is a characteristic virtue of a person who does not try to control or manipulate others, who works only for the good and is regarded in the East as the foremost characteristic of an enlightened leader.

“These are my recollections of a delightful man.”

John continued with what he has personally seen at Christ the King:

“We have a children’s liturgy group, and since we've come back out of lockdown, it's a very successful group, we usually have more than 20 children here at Christ the King. When the children bring up the drawing or the work that they did in the liturgy group, he stops and he looks at each one. He often comments on each one.

“Each child who comes up feels he is presenting something to him as a special experience. And recently when  we had the mass on the actual date of his anniversary, one of the children at Mass that day, when he brought it up, he said to him, ‘I did this for you’.

“Children appreciate that. Parents appreciate that and the parishioners appreciate that. So that's just one example of the small things you don't always notice, the compassion that he shows.

"Now, we've got a couple of presentations to make this afternoon.”

The first presentation, a collection, was made by Michael Collins (parishioner at Our Lady of the Assumption Maryvale):

“The parishioners of Our Lady of the Assumption and Christ King wanted you to know how much they appreciate the support and the guidance you have given us since your ministry with us began in 2019, just before the very difficult time of the lockdown.

“We have collected £1,250 as a token of our regard for you. We want you to know how much we appreciate you. The sum collected is not important, but the message we wish to send you is important, and that is ‘we are very happy that you are here with us’.”

Back to John to introduce the second presentation. John explained that this was supposed to be jointly done by Luke Byrne, the oldest parishioner who recently celebrated his 100th birthday, but due to the hot weather he could not attend.

Luke regularly attends Mass at Christ the King. John mentioned that Luke and his family would be watching the livestream Mass and asked the congregation to turn around and wave to him on the livestream camera.

John then introduced Kathleen McCarty, a 90 something year old lady who is still one of the Sacristans at Christ the King, and has seen every Parish Priest since the Parish was formed. Kathleen presented Fr Thé with a Papal blessing from Pope Francis.

John concluded with

“What more can be said except all our prayers and best wishes go out to you.”

After Mass family photographs were taken on the Altar.

Celebrations continued in the Kingstanding Inn.

Fr Thé wishes to thank all those who helped make it a memorable day

Photo gallery

Silver Jubilee Mass Fr Joseph The-Quang Nguyen

Live stream recording of the presentation by John McCarthy: 

Live stream recording of the full Mass: 

Parish Website