Please say hello to Rev. Joseph Thai Cao, Our Lady of the Mountains new Pastor!
Fr. Joseph comes to us from St. Joan of Arc Parish in Arvada, Colorado, where he faithfully served for the past thirteen years.
Joseph Thai M. Cao was born in Vietnam of Catholic parents (Mr. & Mrs. Kiem Cao) in 1964. He is the second oldest of eight children (5 boys and 3 girls). Growing up in Vietnam, he was taught by the Dominican Sisters until he and his family fled Vietnam when the Communists took over the whole country. He felt a call to become a priest at a very young age when he made his First Communion (at 7 years old). After receiving First Holy Communion, Joseph knelt down in his pew and he heard Jesus speak to his heart, and Jesus gave Joseph a great desire to be a priest. This great desire stayed with him for most of his young life. His parents signed him up to serve at Mass when he was in the 3rd grade. Joseph loved to serve Mass. Every Saturday night he would spend the night at the Rectory in order to ring the church bells to alert people for Mass. Mass begins at 4:30 am, so the servers would ring the church bells around 4am. It took about 3 or 4 boys to pull the rope to ring the bells. This began his vocation to the priesthood.
On April 30, 1975, the Communists took control of the whole country of Vietnam. This led to many Vietnamese fleeing the country to find freedom. Some got out by helicopters, but most fled by boats. Joseph and his family (his mom, grandmother, and the 6 kids at that time) boarded a fishing boat, owned by his uncle, and headed out to sea. The 20-foot boat had about 60 people on board, consisted mostly of women and children. They were packed in like sardines. Their boat was shot at, but miraculously, no one was injured. After several days on the sea, and not knowing where they were heading, they ran out of food and water. The weather was extreme (very hot and sunny during the day but cold and wet at night). After 5 days on the sea, they were rescued by an American cargo ship.
The cargo ship took the refugees to the island of Guam, where they stayed for 2 weeks before relocating to the refugee camp at Ft. Chaffee, Arkansas. Joseph’s family ended up staying at Ft. Chaffee for about 7 months, where they learned English and got acclimated to living in a new country. In December of 1975, an American family, who were living in Aurora, Colorado, sponsored the Cao family to live in Colorado. About 8 months later, they were joined by their dad and grandfather, who successfully escaped Vietnam to reunite with their family. Joseph grew up and went to school in the Denver area, ultimately he finished college in the field of Electronic Engineering. This was not his calling in life. Joseph was unable to find a job as an engineer.
In the summer of 1993, Saint John Paul II came to Denver for World Youth Day. With the presence of a saint, Joseph’s dream of being a priest was rekindled. After attending World Youth Day 1993, Joseph was sent to Conception Seminary College at Conception, Missouri, to begin his study for the priesthood. After two years at Conception, Joseph was sent to Mundelein Seminary near Chicago, Illinois, to study theology. Joseph completed seminary formation in May of 2000 and was ordained a Priest for the Archdiocese of Denver on July 1, 2000. His first assignment as a priest was at St. Mary in Littleton. Over the last 13 years, Fr. Joseph has been the Pastor at St. Joan of Arc in Arvada. Fr. Joseph is eager to begin new adventures as Pastor of Our Lady of the Mountains.
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