My dear brothers and sisters,
As a Vietnamese immigrant, I always had a desire of repaying the United States of America for her generosity in giving our family a new life of freedom. I would not be able to be a priest if I am still living in Viet Nam under the Communists. As a matter of fact, my parents always instilled in my younger brother and me that we need to repay this country for her blessings to us.
Throughout my assignment as the Parochial Administrator of our three parishes, I have come to know and learn more about the military through my daily interactions and pastoral care for military personnel and families who are living within our tri-parish and deanery boundaries. I have been given the opportunity to learn firsthand the effects of P.T.S.D., chronic depression, long-term anxiety, substance abuse/dependency, separation issues, and the likes from our military servicemen and families. Without a doubt, they have personally made a big impact on my life.
I have seen how these brave men and women bore the invisible pains, sufferings, wounds of war and service, and how many of them have chosen to continue to live for others even though it gets hard at times. Being in the military is demanding and hard on our service members and their families; thus, what they have received or gained throughout their time of service continues to affect those who are around them, even if they are unintentional! Many meant well, but they are also weak and broken human beings that need to be loved and cared for, too. Hence, all of these encounters and lessons have humbled and made me more personally committed to helping our armed forces personnel and families even more.
Through a long period of discernment, Bishop Olson has confirmed my desire to serve our military members to be genuine. I am grateful for his encouragement and generosity to transition me from parish duties to serve as a full-time Catholic Priest and Chaplain under the direction of the Archdiocese for the Military Services for the United States Air and Space Forces.
Indeed, faith is a life-long journey and our Christian discipleship consists of the daily exodus in choosing to leave behind our comforts to find the presence of God in each moment. It is a constant letting go of what makes us comfortable in order to find Him deep within our soul. Even though the road of the future is filled with many unknowns, our faith assures us that He is always with us along the journey. Therefore, I believe in the will of God, and His loving presence is my joy. I have always and will continue to entrust my priesthood through the Blessed Mother’s maternal care, guidance, and intercession, but I would like to ask you to remember me in your prayers, too. I know that I am weak and limited, and I cannot go through life’s challenges alone — not without His loving grace and your loving spiritual supports — so please pray for me.
When you come to love where you are and the people in your life, it becomes hard to let go. I have been dreading this for a while, really not wanting to write this letter. It is truly hard to let go because I have loved my time here. Even though it is hard to leave you, this is a journey that I have to take in order to continue growing as a priest, father, shepherd, and friend to other people, especially our military members and their families. I ask that you please pray for me and continue to support the priests who will be sent to you. You are three wonderful communities of faith, and I know that you will continue to love and support those who come in love. I humbly ask that you help Father Joseph Moreno to grow as your shepherd, parish priest, and father in the faith with patience and positive encouragement just as you have done for me.
I ask for your forgiveness for all of my failures and the many times that I had upset you in the past. I am sorry if I have caused you to doubt your faith and feel like that you are not loved, for that was never my intention. I know I have to be firm in defending the teachings of Christ and the Church, but I hope you have always found in me to be someone who valued you and will never abandon you. I always tried to be a joyful, loving, prudent, obedient, and good steward of God’s gifts, but I know that I failed from time to time in my weaknesses and humanity; and for that, I sincerely ask that you forgive me from the bottom of my heart. Please know that I will always be with you in spirit, and you will always have a special place in my heart.
Please feel free to keep in touch. I will try my best to continue to post my weekly reflections and homilies here. Farewell my brothers and sisters, but this is not a goodbye forever… for I believe our paths will cross again in the future somehow — God willing. I love you, my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Until we meet again, aim and fly high… always above (semper supra)!
In His love,
Rev. Fr. Khoi V. Tran