The godfather of my youngest and a great friend of our family Quy Pham became a priest last week. We spent Memorial Day with him as well. He is a good man with a great faith.

For Quy K. Pham, a transitional deacon who will be ordained a priest by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul on May 19, it will be the end of a very long journey both in distance and time. Now 59, he first entered the seminary 46 years ago and 8,900 miles away in My Tho, the capital of Tieng Gang Province in the Mekong Delta region of South Vietnam.

Entering a minor seminary in 1971 at age 13 wasn’t really his idea, the decision was made by his parents — his dad, Can Pham and his mom, Hoi Vu. The eldest of nine and a dutiful son, he did as he was told. Once in the seminary, he really took to the idea of becoming a priest, but circumstances dictated otherwise.

The Vietnam War was still raging, and four years later after the fall of Saigon, the seminary was closed in 1975 by the communists, and Quy had to return home. He continued his studies at a local high school for two years, and then the seminary was briefly reopened.
“It had 300 seminarians when I left, we were on 40 when I went back,” he remembers. The seminary didn’t remain open for long before the authorities closed it again. He continued his studies clandestinely until the authorities put a stop to that also.

Finally in 1983, he made the decision that his only chance for ordination was to escape Vietnam.

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