By Claudia Mathis
Father Qui Vo and Father Charles Gallagher, SJ, share at least two things in common. They were both ordained priests on June 12 and they are former parishioners of the Syracuse Diocese.
Father Vo, a former parishioner of Historic Old St. John’s in Utica, was ordained at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany. He described the ordination ceremony as “amazing.”
“God has chosen me and trusted me to handle this work,” Father Vo said. “It’s a privilege to be working for the Lord. It brings tears to my eyes.”
Father Qui Vo celebrated his first Mass at St. John’s the day after his ordination. “It was my first time consecrating the bread and wine,” he said. “I tried to make Jesus become reality for a while.”
A native of Viet Nam, Father Vo and his father and three siblings immigrated to Utica in 1990 when he was 11 years old. His mother had passed away when he was four years old.
As a parishioner of St. Francis de Sales in Utica, Father Vo served as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, altar server and as director of the parish’s Vietnamese choir.
Father Vo said he initially felt called to become a priest when he was studying the catechism while preparing to make his First Communion. “I had this profound feeling of being pulled to the altar,” he said. “I realized it was the Eucharist.”
He said he felt inspired by two former St. Francis de Sales priests. Father Vo was impressed by Father Richard Kapral’s willingness to give up his time to connect people to God. “He was willing to learn the Vietnamese language for the monthly Vietnamese Mass,” Father Vo said. And, he was struck by the way Father Fred Daley reached out to the oppressed and poor.
Father Vo has a great passion for music, and at one time he wanted to become a professional musician. He attended Onondaga Community College in Syracuse and the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam. During his sophomore year at the school of music, he was working as a part-time organist and director of music at the Church of Annunciation in Ilion, N.Y. Father James Walsh, Director of Vocations for the Albany Diocese, asked him if he was interested in becoming a priest. “He invited me to some discernment meetings,” said Father Vo. “I did a lot of praying in Ilion.”
Father Vo said he is looking forward to bringing the sacraments to the people in his first assignment as associate pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in Albany. “The priest, through his work and actions, is the bridge that connects people to God. I hope to do that.”
Father Charles Gallagher, SJ, ordained to the priesthood on June 12, 2010 at St. Ignatius Church in Chestnut Hill, Mass. in the Archdiocese of Boston, also hopes to bring people closer to God. Father Gallagher has been assigned to the Department of History at Boston College where he will be teaching courses in American history, church history and other areas. A published author, Father Gallagher’s first book, Cross & Crosier: A History of the Diocese of St. Augustine, was written from 1997 to 1999, when he served as the archivist and historian for the Diocese of St. Augustine, Fla. In 2008, his second book, Vatican Secret Diplomacy: Joseph P. Hurley and Pope Pius XII, won the John Gilmary Shea Prize, an annual award given by the American Catholic Historical Society. He has continued to research and write about U.S.-Vatican diplomacy.
“I am thrilled, honored and delighted to have been asked to be a member of one of the best history departments in the U.S.,” said Father Gallagher. “I hope to meet people where they are and bring them to an experience of the church where they can meet Christ in a loving way and thus move closer to God. I am hoping that through my integration of intellectual work and faith, that some very smart people who otherwise might not pay attention to God will raise an eyebrow.”
Father Gallagher realized that he wanted to become a priest when he was 16 years old. He, along with his religion class at Seton Catholic Central School in Binghamton, read the documents of Vatican II. “We read Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes and that’s when I realized that there was something particular about Catholicism,” said Father Gallagher. “I really felt the depth and richness of the church and saw that the real underlying message of all the doctrine was a message of love.”
Father Gallagher was very involved in his parish of St. Patrick’s in Binghamton as a young person and graduated from Seton in 1984.
Father Gallagher graduated from Marquette University with a bachelor’s degree in history in 1988 and earned a master’s degree in history from Binghamton University in 1992. He earned a doctorate in history from Marquette University in 1998, where he was a Cyril E. Smith Dissertation Fellow.
After serving as the archivist and historian for the Diocese of St. Augustine, Fla., Father Gallagher entered St. Paul Regional Seminary in Palm Beach. In the summer of 2000, he entered the Society of Jesus. After pronouncing his vows in 2002, he studied philosophy at St. Louis University for two years. From 2004 to 2006, he taught in the department of history at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.
Father Gallagher lived in the Jesuit community in Wimbledon in the UK during his theological studies. He served as an assistant chaplain at Her Majesty’s Prison in Wandsworth. In 2009, he received his Bachelor of Divinity degree at Heythrop College, University of London. He also, through a special program at Heythrop College, received an S.T.B. degree from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium.
From 2009 to 2010, Father Gallagher was the Visiting Fellow at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations where he taught courses to United Nations diplomats on religion and international relations. He was named a private investigator into the pontificate of Pope Pius XI by the European Network for Research on Pope Pius XI in the Vatican Secret Archives.
Father Gallagher mentioned a number of people who inspired him to pursue the priesthood. In addition to Father Kevin Hannon and Father Thomas Ryan, his graduate advisor at Binghamton University, Rabbi Lance Sussman at Temple Concord influenced his decision to become a priest. “He was an amazing teacher and historian, and also was in charge of a huge congregation and had a wife and five kids to boot!” said Father Gallagher. “I kind of wanted to be like him, except as a priest. When I was at Marquette University, I experienced Jesuits in the classroom for the first time, and that is how I got hooked on the Society of Jesus.”