Refugee keeps a long-ago promise to God
It was 1985, and he was fleeing the poverty and persecution at home to seek a better life.
“I promised God that if I survived, I would dedicate my life to serve His holy will,” he said.
Years later, after studying and working in the United States long enough to bring his entire family here from Vietnam, Father Phan gave away all his worldly possessions and kept that promise by joining the Franciscans.
He was ordained in 2010 and served in a New Jersey parish before coming to South Carolina in 2011. Currently, he is parochial vicar at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Greenville, S.C. and coordinates Vietnamese ministry from his office at Greenville’s Our Lady of the Rosary Church, home to one of the largest Vietnamese populations in the diocese. Each weekend he travels to Rock Hill, Myrtle Beach, Columbia and other cities as needed to celebrate Mass in Vietnamese.
The hours are long and he puts many miles on his small car, but the work is worth it, he says, because he is sharing the love of God with people who need it.
“I asked to come here and work with the Vietnamese because I knew there was a need,” he said. “I have a passion for working with immigrants because I know they have struggled like I did with language barriers, with understanding how to integrate into American culture while still having a Vietnamese identity, and they still want to continue to worship in their own language.” [More]