Vietnamese brother's love for family has taken him to unexpected places


By Theresa Carson

On Aug. 3, six young men professed religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience at Techny, Ill., and became members of the Society of the Divine Word. One has chosen the path of brotherhood formation. The other five are seminarians. All six will begin coursework at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago in the fall. Today, we introduce you to Vincent Tri Nguyen.

For love of family, Vincent Tri Nguyen, now 28, uprooted his life and went to another land. Born in Bien Hoa City, Vietnam, Vincent moved to California at age 21.

“I love where I grew up,” he said, recalling how he attended daily Mass and made many friends at church. “Catholicism played an important part in my life.”
As a child, he enjoyed learning the catechism. To reward the students, teachers gave prizes, such as notebooks, pencils and backpacks.

“If you got a backpack that was a big prize; it cost lot of money to buy a backpack,” he said. “They always supported our education.”

As a high school student, he started thinking about life as a religious. When he told his parents, they supported him. In 2009, he graduated from Tran Bien High School and began studies in information technology, but before he could finish, his grandmother offered to sponsor the family. His father made the decision to relocate the family.

Even though Vincent was three years into his undergraduate program, he did not hesitate to go. “Family is the most important,” said Vincent, who is the fourth of six siblings.

Life took a different direction than he expected. He learned English and worked at a dental supply company. Then, in 2012, he veered back onto a more familiar path. After meeting a Divine Word Missionary, he enrolled in Divine Word College. More than five years later, he received a bachelor’s degree in intercultural studies.

While at the college, Vincent’s interest in liturgical music increased. As part of the choir in his Vietnamese parish, he took an interest in music. At age 15, he taught himself how to play keyboard. At age 19, he enlisted the help of a teacher to learn to play violin. As a student at Divine Word College, Vincent volunteered time to be involved with liturgies.

His participation in music ministry has helped him to make friends from different countries, improve his English and learn more about American culture, he said.

As a brother candidate, Vincent will pursue a master’s degree in liturgical ministry from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.

Back to news