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The Establishment of The Family of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus

In 2002 I attended World Youth Day in Toronto Canada. I sold  a lot of my musical CDs, most of them are sacred songs. I knew that I could not use the money from those CDs for myself. I had to do something for the poor. First I contacted father Joseph Dinh Huy Huong, my spiritual director, who was in Vietnam, asking him to  establish some libraries for children. A few months later I focused on the elderly. I would like to help them with the basic need: rice. I announced on the radio that with only $2 USD we could help an elder have two meals daily for the whole month.

I got a lot of donations after this announcement. In the beginning, in 2002, there were only thirty recipients in the Cai Nhum Holy Cross Adorer Sisters through the collaboration of Sister Martha Phan Thi Tuyet Hong. The number increased rapidly. In 2004, Teresa Charities officially incorporated. In 2005, three years after the start, the number of recipients reached five thousand.

The highest number was in 2009 with almost fifteen thousand. These elders received 10 kg of rice monthly. After 2009 the donations have decreased in half and at the same time, the price of rice four times more expensive in 2013. As I am writing this page in-2014- Teresa Charities still strives to maintain the service.

I was very impressed when viewing a video clip where an old lady expressed the appreciation to the "Order of Teresa. on YouTube"

One day in 2005 I brought the flyer about the program to a store in Portland, Oregon. Mr. Nguyen Phu Duc, the owner, said to me, "The Teresa Order is really good in doing this." From this comment I thought: Why not establishing a religious order of Teresa to serve the ministry longer to the future? We have been collaborating with different Catholic religious orders and even the Buddhist monks and nuns to serve the elders in more than 300 locations all over Vietnam from North to South .

Why not having a religious order of our own to do this ministry wholeheartedly? We already have the Charism: the Little Way of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the ministry serving the elderly. With these two unique projects I was convinced that sooner or latter the Teresa Religious Order will be recognized by the Church. Time is needed for this dream to come true; that would be twenty years or so.

When I first attended the classes of Diaconate Program I thought that I was but a sinful man with very limited ability, especially in the English language. More over, I was already in mature age, fifty years old. I never expected that one day I would be ordained Deacon. But, our Lord is so generous that he ordained me after seven years of me my trying best with patience to follow Him constantly.

One more time I trust in the infinite generosity of our Lord. I am an very unworthy man, even a married one, but I dared to found a religious order: the Family of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus. In 2005 I was brave enough to submit a report to the Archbishop of Portland in Oregon about the activities of Teresa Charities and asked him to start the Family of Saint Therese.

In waiting for his response, through radio broadcasting talk shows, I invited people joining this organization to serve the elderly. I was very happy that I got a big turn out. I received many enrollment applications from around the country, some of which were from religious groups other than Catholic.  We officially formed two big groups: one in Portland, Oregon, and one in Houston, Texas.

All of the members in Houston are Vietnamese, headed by Deacon Joseph Bach Si Nguyen. This group has regular meetings. Each year, since 2004, Houston Family has organized the fund raising dinner usually during the time of the Feast of Saint Therese, October 1. Thousands of  guests attended the event and donations have always been big, to almost a hundred thousand dollars each time.

There are two groups in the Portland Family: a Vietnamese-speaking group and an English-speaking Group. Besides these main groups, we have smaller groups: Dallas, Texas Family; Tennessee, Ohio Family; Lafayette, Louisiana Family.

I contacted father Anton Vu Duc Tu in the Thanh Hoa Diocese and Sister Maria Nguyen Thi Thu Huong in the Bui Chu Diocese, asking them to collaborate with me in establishing the Family of Saint Therese in these places. They accepted gladly. A little time after that, the Families have been formed in Dalat Diocese and Hue Diocese. I was assigned to serve as Deacon in Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Southeast Portland, where there is a somewhat big Filipino community.

Through these faithfulness of our Filipino friends, especially Ms. Lisa Arnaldo, the coordinator, I have had the opportunity to serve some elderly in Quezon City since 2005. After four years of continuous communicating, the Archbishop of Portland in Oregon, John G. Vlazny, signed the decree recognizing the Family of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus as a Private Association of the Faithful on December 8, 2009, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

  This was great news that suddenly came to me because I had thought that it would take at least twenty years or more for our Family to be accepted. What a beginning! From now on we could reach to further our horizons in the Kingdom of God. More than a month latter the Bishop of Dalat Diocese in Vietnam permitted the Family to have activities in his Diocese by a decree signed on January 12, 2010:

DALAT DIOCESE

9 Nguyen Thai Hoc

Dalat- Lam Dong

 

Peter Nguyen Van Nhon

Bishop of Dalat Diocese

After studying the Statutes of The Family of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, a private association of the faithful:

According to the Decree of Archbishop John G. Vlazny, Archbishop of Portland in Oregon , USA, signed on December 8, 2009 recognizing the Family of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus as a private association of the faithful.

According to 298 and 299 of Canon Law,  I permit The Family of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus to have activities in Dalat Diocese.

Dalat, January 12, 2010

Signed & Sealed

Peter Nguyen Van Nhon

Bishop of Dalat Diocese

 

Signed

Rev. Anton Nguyen Duc Khiet

Chancellor

 

 

 The Archbishop of Hue Diocese recognized the Family on August 6, 2011:

Catholic Church

Archdiocese of Hue

6 Nguyen Truong To

Hue-VIETNAM

DECREE

Recognizing the Family of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus

Based on the Decree of Archbishop  John G. Vlazny, Archbishop of Portland in Oregon, USA recognizing the Family of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus signed on December 8, 2009.

Based on The Statutes of the Family of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus  approved by Archbishop John G. Vlazny on January 22, 2011.

Based on the Canon Law 298, 299.

I approve for the Family of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus to have activities in Hue Archdiocese according to its Statutes.

Archdiocese of Hue

The Feast of Transfiguration

August 6, 2011

 

Signed & Sealed

Stephano Nguyen Nhu The

Archbishop of Hue Diocese

Signed

Rev. Duong Quynh

Chancellor

The Bishop of Bui Chu Diocese recognized the Family on October 1, 2012:

Bui Chu Diocese

Xuan Ngoc – Xuan Truong – Nam Dinh

 

                                                DECISION

Recognizing the Family of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, a private association in Bui Chu Diocese

Based on the Decree recognizing the Family of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus as a private association of the Faithful signed by the Archbishop John G. Vlazny  Archbishop of Portland in Oregon on  December 8, 2009.

Based on The Statutes of the Family of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus  approved by Archbishop John G. Vlazny on January 22, 2011.

Based on Canon Law 298 and 299.

I approve for the Family of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus to have activities in Hue Archdiocese according to its Statutes.

Bui Chu Diocese October 1, 2011

The Feast of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus

 

Signed & Sealed

 

Joseph Hoang Van Tiem

Bishop of Bui Chu Diocese

The wonderful news for the Family was that the Bishop of Thanh Hoa Diocese not only recognized the Family but also permitted its members to wear uniform and profess their promises of three Evangelical Counsels on November 17, 2011.

THANH HOA DIOCESE

50 NGUYEN TRUONG TO

THANH HOA CITY – VIETNAM

PERMISSION

Based on the Decree of the Archbishop John G. Vlazny, Archbishop of Portland in Oregon, USA signed on December 8, 2009, recognizing the Family of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus  as a private association of the faithful, founded by Rev. Mr. Vu Thanh An, a Deacon in his Diocese.

Based on Decree of the Archbishop Stephano Nguyen Nhu The Archbishop of Hue Diocese signed on August 6, 2011, recognizing the Family of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus in Hue Archdiocese.

Based on the quality of the trying activities of the Family of Saint Therese in the last three years.

Based on the Canon Law 298 and 299.

I officially recognize and permit the Family of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus to have activities in the territory of Thanh Hoa Diocese.

This decision is valid until the end of my term as Bishop of Thanh Hoa Diocese.

Diocese of Thanh Hoa

November 11, 2011

Signed & Sealed

Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh

Bishop of Thanh Hoa Diocese

The Dream to establish the International Private Association

The Family of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus has been officially recognized as a private association of the faithful in Portland, Oregon, USA, in 2009. Teresa Charities belongs to the Family has activities in United States of America, Vietnam, the Philippines, Tanzania, and Colombia. We have the dream of establishing the Family as an International Association , recognized by the Holy See. I presented this dream to Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet in Chau Son Abby, Ninh Binh Province on the afternoon of October 27, 2013. He showed me how to realize this dream: Carefully preparing the Statutes and establishing the Mother House in Hanoi Archdiocese or Thanh Hoa Diocese.         

The Archbishop of Hanoi, Archbishop Peter Nguyen Van Nhon supported my dream  about an International Association in the meeting at his office in the afternoon of November 5, 2013. He showed me how to operate such an organization and advised me to come to the Bishop of Thanh Hoa to ask for the Mother House in his Diocese. 

In the morning on November 7 at Thanh Hoa Diocese Office, after hearing my report about the encouragements and approvals of Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet and Archbishop  Peter Nguyen Van Nhon, the Bishop of Thanh Hoa, Bishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh, agreed for me to start the procedure to establish the International Private Association. In the following days I received more approvals from the Archbishop of Hue  and Bishop of Thai Binh.

By the approval of the Archbishop of Hue Archdiocese Archbishop Francis Xavier Le Van Hong, the Retired Archbishop of Hue Diocese, Archbishop Stephen Nguyen Nhu The accepted my invitation to be the Spiritual Director of the Family of Saint Therese of Hue Diocese and also the Advisor for the Board of Spiritual Directors of the would-be International Private Association.

After attending the rice distribution in An Truyen Parish at noon on November 15, 2013, I had a fever, perhaps because of food poisoning. Even though I was not so well, I left Hue for Kim Doi Parish at about 4 pm as scheduled. I did not want to fail all the elders who waited for me. I knew my health condition so at noon I called father Tran An to cancel the event planned the next day in La Vang. I could not endure a long day with many activities. I still had a ten day trip to the Philippines. 

Starting from Hue Diocese Office we left for Kim Doi Parish under heavy rain. We drove on the road along the river side. The water already reached to the brim of the road. During the Mass I was trembling and could not  stay put in my seat. I prayed to God for a safe journey. I still had a lot to do in the Philippines the following week.  The Mass ended and I insisted to the pastor that we leave quickly. I knew that all the elders and guests were somewhat sad because we could not have dinner with them. On the way back to Hue, the rain was even heavier and the water covered completely everywhere. Many cars must stopped in the middle of the road because the water entered the engines. The driver tried his best to guess where the road was and where the rice field was, to drive on the right path. I told all my folks in the car,"Let us go in faith." The car was like flowing on the river and the water already entered the car. The floor was full of water but the car kept going! Reaching the Diocese office, no car was on the street but ours. I was exhausted when opening the door of my room. I thought that I was about to pass out. I managed to make it to my bed. I called father Vincent Tran Van Duong in the Sacred Heart Order nearby. He came with a candidate named Mr. Vy. After checking my condition Mr. Vy waded through flooded streets to get medication for me. It was fortunate that the fever was reduced the next day.

  God had saved from danger. If the car had stopped in the middle of the way home, what would have happened to me since no one could have brought me medicines in that night where water covered  all over the vast area.

I reached Philippines on the night of November 24, 2013. Because of the super typhoon Haiyan I changed the schedule. I wanted to visit the locations most damaged by this disaster which claimed thousands of lives.

 At 11 am on November 25, 2013, we visited the Bishop of Cubao, Bishop Ongtioco. Going with me there were Lisa Arnaldo, FAST Coordinator in the Philippines, father Angelito Tolit Pastor of Immaculate Heart Parish, and the members of Age Legacy Ministry in the parish. I offered the Bishop eighty thousand pesos for the typhoon victims. The Bishop expressed his appreciation for the generosity of the Vietnamese people.

Before leaving the Philippines for the US I had a meeting with father Lito, father Educ and Lisa Arnaldo. We planned for future activities. We agreed to expand the ministry to some other countries with the help of Claretian Fathers. We talked about the gathering of members of the Family in the Philippines. It is easy for members from Vietnam and the US to come to the Philippines. If God granted, we could have representatives from countries like Tanzania, Colombia, Indonesia, East Timor,Cambodia, El Salvador, Dominican Republic. Congo, Along with the US, Vietnam and the Philippines, we could have elevem representatives all together . What a great number!

In the meeting with the Archbishop of Portland on March 20, 2014, at the Pastoral Center , Archbishop Alexander K. Sample agreed for us to have the International Mission and Assembly in the Philippines in 2015. He mentioned the aspect of petitioning for recognition from the Holy See for the International Association for the Family of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Mother's House, which would be in Portland. He hoped that he could attend the assembly and the Emeritus Archbishop John G. Vlazny would be glad to attend also, since he had first recognized the Family in 2009.

The set date for the Mission and Assembly is October 19 to 29, 2015.

Signed & Sealed

Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh

Bishop of Thanh Hoa Diocese

 

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