Father Khien (John) Mai Luu SVD, 63, pastor of Resurrection of Our Lord in St. Louis, died in his sleep on Thursday, May 26.
Father Khien, who devoted his priesthood to working in formation and pastoral ministries, was a missionary in Australia, Vietnam and the United States.
“He was a kind and gentle person who always tried to bring peace and harmony to other people,” said Father Quang Duc Dinh, provincial superior of the Chicago Province.
“I have known him since the day he arrived at Divine Word College [in Epworth, Iowa] in 1982,” said Father Quang, who reminisced about their shared college graduation, novitiate, first vows ceremony, perpetual vows ceremony and priesthood ordination. “He was loved by and kept in touch with many people. For more than 40 years, he stayed connected with people whom he met in a refugee camp in Thailand. That’s the type of person he was—a good-hearted person.”
Born in Dai Loc, Quang Nam, Vietnam, in 1958, Khien Mai Luu was one of Riem Luu and Quy Thi Nguyen’s ten children. He entered the seminary as a youth in 1969 and earned a certificate in philosophy from Pope John XXIII Seminary in My Tho, Vietnam, in 1979. His seminary studies were interrupted the following year when he left Vietnam, lived in a Thai refugee camp and finally settled in San Jose, Calif.
Shortly after arriving in the United States, the young man earned certificates in electronic assembly and electronic technology from the Adult Education Center in Sunnyvale, Calif. In 1982, he enrolled in Divine Word College, where he continued his seminary training and received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.
In 1987, Father Khien completed novitiate in Bay St. Louis, Miss.; professed vows; and began studies at Catholic Theological Union (CTU) in Chicago. He graduated in 1992, was ordained to the priesthood at Techny and was sent to Australia for his first assignment as a priest.
Father Khien served the Vietnamese Catholic community in Sydney and was assistant dean of students at Divine Word Seminary in Box Hill, Victoria, Australia.
In 1999, he returned to his country of birth when he was appointed director of formation and dean of students for Divine Word Missionaries in Saigon. Six years later, he went back to his alma mater in Iowa as formation director.
Father Khien was assigned to Resurrection of Our Lord parish in St. Louis in 2014 and served the parish until his death.
He was preceded in death by his mother and two brothers. He is survived by his father and seven siblings.
Funeral services will be held in San Jose, Calif., and St. Louis. Viewings and prayer services will be at Resurrection of Our Lord Church in St. Louis on June 9 and 10 from 3 to 8 p.m., followed by Mass. Another viewing will take place at the parish on June 11 at 8 a.m., followed by a funeral Mass at 9 a.m.
At St. Maria Goretti Church in San Jose, viewings and prayer services will be held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 23 and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on June 24. Memorial Masses will be celebrated on both days, beginning at 6 p.m. A final funeral Mass will take place at St. Maria Goretti on June 25 at 10 a.m.
Father Khien will be buried at Oak Hill Funeral Home and Memorial Park in San Jose.
Resurrection of Our Lord Church is located at 3900 Meramec St. in St. Louis. St. Maria Goretti Church is located at 2980 Senter Rd. in San Jose. Oak Hill Funeral Home and Memorial Park is located at 300 Curtner Ave. in San Jose.