New beginnings found in Vietnam

Fr. Ed and the novices pose for a photo with SCJs in Vietnam

“This journey has helped me to commit to opening my heart to do whatever it is that I am called to do.”

-Novice Henry Nguyen


Novices Henry Nguyen and Paul (Phong) Hoang are traveling in Vietnam with Fr. Ed Kilanski during the first two weeks of December. Fr. Ed invited the novices to join him so that they could learn more about the SCJ congregation (Dehonians) outside of the United States.

Henry shared a reflection on the first week of their travels:

“We just entered into a new liturgical year as we started Advent last Sunday. At the same time, I had a new beginning as I stepped into a cross-cultural experience, my first trip to Việt Nam. It is a country that I only knew through stories by word of mouth and the limited pictures that my family had. My parents left it over 30 years ago.

“I considered this a cross-cultural experience because I grew up in the United States.  At home in California I ate the food and spoke the language of Vietnam, but it was not my culture. Life here is so different from back home.


“Dehon House in Việt Nam has been nothing but a gift, one that resembles many other communities that I have been to in the US Province with hospitality and a sense of welcome. I reunited with students that were a part of the Summer 2017 ESL program at SHSST in Hales Corners, WI.

“The District of Việt Nam held a day of recollection that fell on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. A question that arose out of the recollection for me was “How do I make myself available to the Spirit with what I have and what I can do?” As I discern this availability, it will allow me to truly embrace ‘Ecce Venio.’ This is a call to love, to open my eyes to see, to open my heart to love, so I can open my hands to do.

“The formation communities of Việt Nam are very vibrant and alive. Although filled with a packed schedule between school and ministry, they are in the midst of preparing a Christmas gathering filled with an agenda of songs and dances for this weekend. I am truly moved by the dedication of the students here. I pray for them and their Open Hearts.

“While here, I also had an unforgettable moment when I went to Vũng Tàu, the area that my father grew up in. As I was met by my cousin, I had no nervousness or insecurities about meeting my dad’s side of the family for the first time. We headed towards the parish of Phước Lâm and picked up my bà nội (paternal grandmother). It was the first time that our eyes have met, and they were filled with tears of joy. Although my bà nội and I didn’t share many words, it was truly the presence which touched my heart, our hearts. Definitely a priceless opportunity.

“This journey has helped me to commit to Opening my Heart to do whatever it is that I am called to do.”