Peter Son Le, Jesús Mata Martinez, Hoa Nhu Nguyen and Sinh Hong Trinh are the newest members of the 133-year-old international missionary order.
Le, 34, left Vietnam with five of his ten siblings in 1989. In 1998, he moved to the United States. Le completed his bachelor’s degree in philosophy at Divine Word College and then entered the Divine Word Theologate, studying at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.
Mata Martinez, 28, credits his parents for his Catholic upbringing. As a teenager, he was unable to follow his parents to the United States, but he remained close to the people in the family’s parish. As an adult, he worked as an accountant in Heroica Matamoros, Mexico, and eventually immigrated to the United States to begin English-language and philosophy courses at Divine Word College in 2004.
Nguyen, 24, who was born in Vietnam, arrived in the United States with his parents when he was seven. After completing elementary and high school in Southern California, Nguyen received a bachelor’s degree from Divine Word College in 2007.
Born in Vietnam, Trinh, 40, said he knew that in order to join a religious community and become a priest he needed to leave his country. In 1983, he made the first of four failed escapes and finally succeeded on the fifth attempt in 1989.
For ten years, he lived in a refugee camp in the Philippines. In 2002, he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Xavier University before moving to the United States in 2006. He studied English for a year at Divine Word College.
Trinh and Mata Martinez will join Le at Catholic Theological Union in the fall. Nguyen, who has chosen to be a religious brother, will attend DePaul University to pursue a master’s degree in counseling.
Of the world’s ten largest religious orders for men, the Society of the Divine Word—commonly known as Divine Word Missionaries—is the fastest growing community. Founded in 1875, the Society of the Divine Word has more than 6,000 members who serve the spiritual and humanitarian needs of people in 70 countries.