Deacons Jerry Bourg, Tuan Nguyen and Clinton Thomas celebrated the Mass alongside Fr. Vu. The anniversary Mass was bilingual; it was proclaimed in English and in Vietnamese, Father Vu’s native language. After the Mass, a reception was held in the church hall, where he was presented with numerous gifts and praise-filled testimony.
Father Vu is still strong in his faith. “I still believe the Gospel that Jesus said to us, ‘Whatever happens to you, I will be with you until the end of the World,” he said.
He asked for the prayers of those in attendance. “Continue to pray for me so that I may be faithful to God to serve you and to serve all peoples, not just Americans, but also the Vietnamese community in the Lafayette Diocese,” Fr. Vu said.
Thomas Vu was born into a Catholic family in Biên Hòa province, South Vietnam in 1958. His family was always strong in its faith, and Thomas’ parents and grandmother supported him and his siblings in their desire to receive a Catholic education. Thomas has a sister who is a nun, and he and his brother attended Minor Seminary for the Mother Co-Redemptrix despite the persecution of Catholics under the communist Vietnamese regime.
After a turbulent period in the 1970s and 1980s which included the closing of the Minor Seminary, the resumption of his studies in secret, and the arrest of the superior of his order, Thomas decided to emigrate to America in 1987. He traveled from Vietnam to Malaysia in the open ocean on a boat crammed with more than 100 people and spent the next two years in refugee camps in Malaysia and the Philippines. Finally in 1989, Thomas arrived in America. He lived in several communities in the United States before being accepted in 1993 to Saint Joseph Abbey and Seminary College in St. Benedict, Louisiana. After his graduation in 1997, Thomas began his studies at Notre Dame Seminary. On June 9, 2001, Thomas Vu was ordained by the Most Reverend Joseph O’Donnell at Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Lafayette.
Father Vu’s first appointment was as associate pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Rayne, Louisiana. In January 2004, he was installed as pastor of St. Jules and Immaculate Conception Catholic churches. During his pastorship, Father Vu has performed more than 100 baptisms, given more 120 children their First Communion, wed over 30 couples, welcomed nearly 140 people into Catholic faith, renovated both churches, and built a new rectory. Currently more than 350 families are registered at St. Jules and Immaculate Conception churches. In addition to his responsibilities as pastor, Fr. Vu is the Director of the Diocese of Lafayette’s Office of Vietnamese Ministries.