Monday, May 01, 2000

Priest also a war refugee




By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ELMWOOD PLACE — Since 1983, the Rev. Huan Tien Nguyen has cared for local Vietnamese Catholics.

        It's a good fit.

        He was a refugee, too.

        North Vietnamese troops at the end of the war were either taking military chaplains prisoner — or shooting them.

        Father Nguyen, working in Da Lat, South Vietnam, went south with villagers in March 1975. For the next month, he cared for hundreds of refugees — hearing confessions, saying Mass — until a priest friend put him on a boat on April 28.

        He was sent to a refugee camp in Pennsylvania.

        Father Nguyen, wanting to be near his brother in Dayton, Ohio, wrote to then-Cincinnati Archbishop Joseph Bernardin and asked to come here. The archbishop agreed to bring the priest to Dayton, where he worked at Good Samaritan Hospital.

        “I believe in God's providence,” said the priest, now 62. “We don't understand at the time, when it is difficult to see good, that God will provide something good.”

        That something is life in the United States. April 30, 1975 — “the day we lost our country, that is the bad side — is a day of thanksgiving. We thank God and we thank America.”

       



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