Memories of Fr. Paul Chuong Nguyen

Fr. Paul was an inspiration to my husband Deacon Ed and myself. We became very close when he was in Tampa. He went to the Vatican and sent us a signed note from the pope and a papal blessing. That was the kind of man he was, he was always concerned about others. He was so spiritual and so funny. He will be greatly missed. I am sorry now I did not bug him more to see the doctor. He would have chosen to go in his sleep gently and quietly. He will be dearly missed by myself and my family.Lorraine Anctil

When Kris and I came from Jersey for the summer, we had an extended Quarantine at St. Joseph’s Retreat Center. Fr. Paul took it upon himself to be our spiritual guide during our stay. We would pull up chairs in front of the altar and he would offer us daily Mass with morning prayer. As a homily, he would ask us controversial questions and discuss them with us. Kris reached out to me yesterday and we reminisced. He was a great man and priest.
Leo I.

If you ever needed to get something done, Paul was your guy. You could ask him for favors that were beyond his ability and he would say “Let me get back to you” and lo and behold, there he was in a few hours (the time it took to go to Anaheim and back) with what was needed. I was very impressed with his connections and how willing people were to always help Paul and his trillions of needs. He was greatly trusted by everyone to be on our mission. When Covid-19 hit and everyone went into lockdown to spare their health and the health of those around them, bodies were piling up at the funeral homes and funeral services were impossible to attend. Enter stage left, Paul. St. Joseph’s became THE place for the grieving of lost ones while everyone else was hiding behind monitors and closed doors. Most days he had 3 to 5 funerals, all outside in fresh air, all caring for the people in need. Was Paul crazy? Absolutely, as we are all called to be crazy for our Gospel mission. AMEN!

Paul came to me one day and said “we have to do something” about Covid. A few teachers, some graduating Seniors from Bosco Tech and Paul went to work designing, building, and delivering face shields for health care workers. I forget how many thousands we put together for those in need and we were delighted to do something as Bosco Tech. “Paul, how much do we owe you for these supplies” after receiving tons of specialized plastics, glues and elastic? He looked at me like I was crazy and said “it’s all covered, don’t worry about it.” He found a donor to take care of supplies – never a word about donation letters or thank you’s. Those of us at Bosco Tech thought we were hot stuff helping so many health care workers, filling a great need for our neighbors. One day I was picking up giant specialized plastic boards in Anaheim when I got to see what the Vietnamese supporters were up to: thousands of shields, millions of face masks, medical gowns…anything and everything was being produced in a humble shop, by humble people and led by a humble Salesian Priest: Paul.

Thank you, Paul, for your brotherly love and devotion.
Tom M.

Fr. Paul and I were friends from our days in Newton and I was delighted when he decided to come to St. Joseph’s Retreat Center. He was always fun and funny from those first days. He was a wide open book. In fact, we often shared dreams about what could be done to improve some of our ministries. In fact, one of the first things he remembered when I saw him in Rosemead were the designs for improving St. Joseph’s. I drew out my ideas of renovations many years before and he not only remembered those, he came with those drawings and told me he wanted to make those changes. I was flattered by his confidence in me! And as we all know, he dove in and changed St. Joseph’s in amazing ways, but not just physically, though he certainly did that, he changed the whole culture there. Welcoming the dying during the pandemic and holding outdoor funerals in the grotto time after time, he brought a whole new vision of outreach that was far and wide touching to so many lives. This was the friend I knew from many years ago. I was worried when I heard he was fighting cancer, but Paul’s reaction was very typical, “Don’t worry about me. You just have to keep working!” And he certainly did work daily and touched many lives! Thank you, Paul, for coming out west and transforming our retreat center. It is going to be hard to replace you, but I will take your cue and keep on working. Keep working from heaven and help us move forward. God give you great rest in the Salesian Garden, We will miss you.
J. M.

Fr. Paul was a very special Salesian! He truly fulfilled a unique model of kindness and dedication. He was a never-ending effort to share his good spirit and creative talents. He loved to make people smile. He was never afraid to try something new, and motivated everyone to join him in helping others. He was generous, thoughtful, and treated everyone with respect and kindness. He inspired others to follow his good example. He was a holy man who always reflected on the gift of our faith and promoted a special devotion to Our Blessed Mother. Fr. Paul worked hard and always extended his hands to those that needed his help.

Thank you. Fr. Paul for all you have done for our Retreat Center and the 9:30 am. Community. Thank you for always reaching out to those in need, especially the young and the poor. And thank you for pampering us with such beautiful banners that illustrated special Salesian Feasts, important dates in our Liturgical Calendar, etc.

We will miss you, Fr. Paul…You will always have a special place in our hearts. Rest in Peace, Fr. Paul! Pray for us!
Elizabeth Gamarra

Fr. Paul was a Novice, 1978-79, when we first met. I knew him best after his first vows when he never had any difficulty coming for the monthly chats. He was completely open, pleasant, and cheerful. He was an ‘all-stages- go’ sort of person in formation, most promising. After many years apart, how very pleasant it was to meet him in these later stages of his life, ever with a smile and ready to remind me of our time together. His sudden death and the reaction of those who knew him well show that the promising young Salesian of early days had developed into a well-loved and respected fellow Religious, an honor to our Society. I suspect he is already with Don Bosco in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Ed L.