SCJ prepares for studies in Rome
As noted in the previous article, Fr. Francis Vu Tran, SCJ, leaves St. Martin of Tours parish to continue language studies in preparation for graduate work in Biblical Theology in Rome.
For the past six years he has been associate pastor at the parish in Franklin, Wis. Since 2007, he has also served as pastor to the Vietnamese community in Milwaukee.
“Leaving the people at the parish is the hardest part of the move,” said Fr. Francis. “I love working in a parish and being a part of people’s lives, not just the lives of the Vietnamese, but the wider St. Martin of Tours community.”
He continued, noting that in becoming a full-time student “a large part of who I am will be gone.
Pastoral ministry is so much a part of my vocation; it is who I am and what I do. In a parish people come to me and include me in some of the most difficult –– and special –– moments of their lives. I have spent hours with people at the end of their lives, waiting with them at their death beds. I have married couples and been there for the baptism of their children. It is hard to think that this won’t be a part of my life for awhile.”
But Fr. Francis also said that after six years at St. Martin of Tours it is time to open up a new chapter in his life.
He began his studies last summer. Fr. Francis joined Br. Frank Presto, SCJ, in Perugia, Italy, for two months of intensive Italian study. Since returning to St. Martin’s, Fr. Francis continued with the studies, working with a language tutor.
“But I still feel like I have a long way to go,” he said. “And besides the Italian, I will also need to learn Hebrew and Greek.”
Fr. Francis is already multilingual. When he immigrated to the United States from Vietnam he learned English. “Some things are easier, some things are harder with the Italian,” he said. “It will be the same with Hebrew and Greek. The important thing in learning a language is to have the courage to be wrong, to just try to use the new language and not be afraid to make a fool of yourself once in awhile.”
If all goes as planned he will begin his studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in October.
Why go to Rome to study?
“It’s more than the academic work,” said Fr. Francis. “It’s the opportunity to be a part of an international community.” During his time in Rome Fr. Francis will be a member of the international SCJ college community based at the Generalate. “In Rome I will not only learn about Italian culture, but about the many cultures that make up the student community and the wider Generalate community. It’s an opportunity to get a better sense of what it means to belong to an international congregation, to see the big picture of who the Priests of the Sacred Heart are and who I am as a member of this international congregation.”
However, while he is excited to live with and learn about the wider congregation, he says that he will miss being with the members of the U.S. Province, his “immediate” SCJ family. “I’ll be coming back for province activities, such as the election assembly,” he said.
As he tells members of the Vietnamese community at St. Martin of Tours, “no matter where you go, it is always important to remember your roots.”