April 10, 2018
Dear Members, Companions, Volunteers, and Friends,
Greetings from Vietnam where the only thing warmer than our welcome is the weather! The twelve-hour time difference from Kansas City presents a challenge — as we are winding down the day here you are just getting to work!
Brother Daryl has sent an article and some pictures from our celebration last Saturday when we welcomed four new incorporated members and two pledged candidates to our mission in Vietnam, but I wanted to share a few thoughts about the hope I see in our community here. I have met with each of our new members the past couple of days with the help of an interpreter as I am conducting an official visitation. I am inspired by the quality of their commitment, their energy and enthusiasm for mission, their deep understanding for the Precious Blood and their desire to serve the poor and the marginalized.
I am staying with Father Nhan Bui and our candidates at Xavier Formation House. Father Mike Goode is staying with Brother Daryl Charron and Father Tam Hoang at Gaspar House of Discernment which is near the airport and a considerable distance by bus from the formation house. Each morning at 5:00 AM, we gather for Morning Prayer and Mass. I have been celebrating Mass with the students in English and their ability to understand and speak English has improved dramatically since I visited three years ago. Brother Daryl has been teaching the candidates English since his arrival as director of the mission and his abilities as a teacher are clearly reflected in his students.
Living at Xavier House are two of our new members, Hoa Vu, who is completing his last year of preparation for the priesthood at the Dominican Center for Studies; and Ky Phung who is in his first year of studies at Redemptorist School of Theology. I met with each of them individually yesterday. Both are extremely talented young men — Hoa is an accomplished musician and Ky an artist. Their creative spirit and zeal are inspiring.
Today, I met with our other two newest members, Hao Pham and Diep Vu, who serve together at our mission in Tan Thanh, about four hours from Ho Chi Minh City near the Cambodian border. Hao completed his studies this past year and serves the parish at Tan Thanh in many ways, especially sacramental preparation. He is very involved in the life of the parish as a catechist. Brother Diep Vu joins Brother Daryl as the only two brothers in the Kansas City Province/Vietnam Mission. As he described his ministry at Tan Thanh — from farming and gardening and construction to teaching catechism and taking communion to the sick and elderly in the parish — he is very active in the parish and local community. This expansion of our mission to Tan Thanh is another step in our evolving mission in Vietnam. I have an appointment with the bishop of the diocese in which Tan Thanh is located on Friday to discuss present and future possibilities for mission.
Our two new pledged candidates, Dung Nguyen and An Nguyen both live at Xavier House. Dung is in his second year studying Philosophy at the Dominican Center for Studies; An is in his first. Both are very hospitable, excellent cooks, and have a great spirit and enthusiasm for community and the mission. I have been very inspired by the spirit of prayer to which all of the candidates are very committed.
Our three initial formation candidates — Blir Ntor, Tinh Cao, and Khuong Nguyen — have certainly made an impression in the short time we’ve been here. Many of the pictures of the Incorporation ceremony you will see were taken by Khuong. Blir served as the Master of Ceremonies for the liturgy and Tinh was very involved behind the scenes. In these three young men, the future of our mission here beams brightly!
As the visitation continues for the rest of the week, I meet with two other members of our mission, Fathers Truc Vu and Loi Nguyen on Wednesday. Father Mike is doing well and is enjoying some of the sights with Brother Daryl as I meet with each of the members and candidates individually. Father Dien Truong, former director of the mission and now Director of Development is also here with us. Thank you for your prayers for our missionaries in Vietnam and all the people they serve. This is my third trip and my admiration and gratitude for the community and ministry here continues to deepen and grow!
With peace in the blood of Christ,
Joe Nassal, C.PP.S.