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  • Writer's pictureCatholic Ministries Appeal

Authenticity of Idente Missionaries Led Deacon Jinwoo Nam to Join Them

By John Woods

Deacon Jinwoo Nam, M.Id., first encountered the Idente Missionaries of Christ the Redeemer as a college student in the Philippines. At the time he had fallen away from the strong Catholic faith of his youth and was beset by difficulties.

At a local Idente-run parish, he met Father Felipe Rufes Vasquez, M.Id., who patiently began to answer his many questions about Catholicism. He encouraged Deacon Nam to read the Bible each day and offered spiritual direction inspired by the Idente Missionaries.

“He patiently gave me advice, and I felt hope that I could change my life with the grace of God,” said Deacon Nam, 34, one of three children born to devout parents in Seoul, South Korea.

As his personal transformation proceeded, he became comfortable sharing his experiences of God’s love with others. Now about to begin his priesthood with the Idente Missionaries, Deacon Nam wants to bring the happiness of living his faith to those facing “similar situations” to the ones he experienced in the past.

“I was distant from the Church. I had questions about God’s existence. I had some addictions,” Deacon Nam said. “Now, living the faith, I am very happy. I want to share this joy of following Jesus with others, so they will not suffer. I was suffering in those moments.”

Deacon Nam said the authenticity of the Idente Missionaries he encountered made a deep impression on him. “They were enthusiastic about following Jesus, that was very fresh for me. Through them I went back to my faith,” he said.

He counts community life as one of the great benefits of serving with the Idente Missionaries. “As a priest, I believe I need the community,” he explained. “I cannot live by myself, not just for material needs, but also spiritual needs, to grow in charity.”

He professed vows with the Idente Missionaries in New York in 2015. He studied philosophy at St. John’s University before enrolling at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Yonkers, in 2018.

He appreciated that seminarians come to St. Joseph’s from various dioceses and religious orders. “We all got along with each other,” he said. “It’s a good idea. We became more united.”

Deacon Nam most recently has served at St. Luke’s parish in Brentwood. He led catechism classes, directed the altar servers and worked with groups dedicated to youth and Eucharistic adoration. He also was a spiritual adviser to the Catholic Club at Suffolk Community College.

Deacon Nam believes that staying in dialogue “with intellectuals in universities” can offer a good sounding board on the current culture because philosophies “spreading out there are formed” on campus.

He earlier was a youth minister for seven years at Our Lady of Solace-St. Dominic parish in the Bronx.

His first priestly assignment at Our Lady of Loretto parish in Hempstead will reunite him with the pastor, Father Rufes, who joins his parents as his biggest influence.

Deacon Nam will offer his first Mass at 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 11, at St. Luke’s Church in Brentwood.

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