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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Interview with Fr. Dominic Vu Pham, L.C.
I remember when I was small, we had a lot of traditions of the priests, and thinking of when I was growing up, I think those were probably the happiest moments of my life.

P Dominic Vu Pham, L.C.

Q. Fr Dominic, where are you from?
I was born in Vietnam, and at the age of four, my family and I went to the United States. Actually, we escaped, and we settled in New Orleans.

Q. You were very young at the time. Do you have any memories of what life was like for Catholics in Vietnam when you were there?
I was only four when I left, so, as you can immagine, I don’t remember much, but I do remember that mostly for Catholics and for those who were on the south part of Vietnam, it was very difficult. For that reason we left Vietnam. We escaped not only because of the political situation but especially to have greater freedom of religion. It was not easy. It is not easy. In fact, the Catholic Church is under persecution—I wouldn’t say outright persecution, but yes, a subtle persecution from the government that does not give the Church the freedom of living, the freedom for Catholics to live their faith.

Q. Was it difficult to adjust to Western culture?
It was not difficult for me. I was very young. I didn’t know much English, that’s for sure. The two words that I knew were “yes” and “no” and that was what we used to answer: “yes” or “no”. But being young it was fairly easy to pick up the language and the culture. It was not difficult to adjust.

Q. Why did you decided to become a priest?
The story goes back to when we escaped from Vietnam. I remember those who helped us on the boats—I don’t know whether they were priests or seminarians, but definitely they were leaders in the faith and they were very heroic. I remember they used to organize us to pray the rosary on the boats and afterwards in the refugee camps. We would get up and pray the rosary together and sing hymns to Mary together as we were escaping Vietnam.

Afterwards, arriving to the United States, the priests who had come over from Vietnam were like Moses for us. They really took care of the Vietnamese people when they arrived. They took care of their material needs, but especially of their spiritual needs, and for me, that was the most important, to see them as real leaders of God’s people, from where true happiness came. I remember when I was small, we had a lot of traditions of the priests, and thinking of when I was growing up, I think those were probably the happiest moments of my life.

Q. What motivated you to join the Legionaries of Christ?
I forgot to answer what made me decide to become a priest! These priests were the real inspiration for me, and I somehow wanted to be like them, to help people. Now, what made me decide to enter the Legion of Christ was very providential. For me, a priest is he who freely, willingly, and joyfully serves others in the name of Christ and quite frankly the priest that I met that really inspired me to take the steps to become a priest was Fr. Anthony Bannon, the territorial director of the Legion in the United States. Because of him, I think, I decided to enter the Legion.

Q. What expectations do you have for your priestly life and ministry?
I don’t have any expectations really. It’s been a blank check that I’ve signed, or at least tomorrow with the ordination I will sign a blank check that also has the signature of someone condemned to death, I think. We have prayed a lot these days and have contemplated the identity of the priest, and it really struck me that the priest is he who has received the privilege by his ordination to be crucified with Christ. What does that mean? I think that each of us must try to understand it better, but for me, it means signing that blank check and hope for the best, and the best, I think, is God’s Will.



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