Grace upon grace! I was born into a Catholic family with seven children. My family had a big rice farm with hundreds of chickens. My hometown was a small Catholic village with the population about 200 people (about 1,000 people today). Every day, after school, my friends and I spent hours playing on the rice field: soccer, flying kites, and hide and seek. Then we all jumped into the river surrounding the village to swim until we heard our mothers’ voices, “Time for dinner!” Family dinner was always my favorite time. It always began with the Lord’s prayer. My mother usually made a lot of good and healthy food. Most of the food was from our garden and farm. My father loved to tell funny stories. We laughed and enjoyed the dinner.

Grace upon grace! When I grew up, there were not too many priests in my home diocese, the Diocese of Hanoi. So, one priest often had to take care of three to six parishes. My home pastor had six parishes with about 20 churches. As a result, we did not often have daily Mass. The only Sunday Mass we had was on Saturday afternoon. Thus, my faith was nurtured and practiced mostly in communal and family prayer. In my hometown, there were often three times a day the people came to church to pray together, 5 a.m., noon, and 7 p.m. After dinner, my family usually went to church together, praying the rosary with others. My parents really tried their best to make our family as a “domestic church.” They always showed my siblings and me a good example of being faithful Catholics. We were not allowed to go to bed without saying a prayer, giving thanks to God, and asking for His grace.

Grace upon grace! Then came the time that I needed to say goodbye to my family and friends to go to college. I went to Hanoi Law University in the biggest city in Vietnam, Hanoi. Life in college and the city was totally different from life in my hometown. Everyone was busy. There was no farm, no river, no family dinner. However, Sunday Mass, choir, catechism classes, Catholic student group, and parish summer projects at the parish near my university really helped me continue to practice and grow in faith.

Grace upon grace! After four years of practicing law, with the help of the Holy Spirit through the direction of my spiritual director, I came to recognize the call of God to the priesthood. However, at the age of 29, it was almost impossible for me to be accepted by any seminary or religious order in Vietnam because 25 was the oldest age for new seminarians.

Grace upon grace! Christmas 2016, I was asked if I wanted to go to Vermont to serve the Diocese of Burlington. I was hesitant because I did not know English or anything about Vermont. However, trusting in God, after several months of praying and preparing, in May 2017, I came to Vermont, the land of the Green Mountains, the land of snow, and the land of kind people.

Grace upon grace! After two years studying English and five years in formation at St. Meinrad Seminary, this summer I will be ordained to serve the Diocese of Burlington, my new home, as a transitional deacon.

Grace upon grace!

— Luan Tran is a seminarian for the Diocese of Burlington and will be ordained to the transitional diaconate on June 1.

Ordination to the Transitional Diaconate

Mr. Luan Tran

Saturday, June 1, 2024 • 10 AM • Cathedral of St. Joseph, Burlington

—Originally published in the May 25-31, 2024, edition of The Inland See.