HOUSTON,TX – August 18, 2015
On the occasion of his recent vacation visit to Houston, Fr. Trinh Le, C.S.Sp. shared some aspects of his missionary ministry in Vietnam with Fr. Michael Begley, C.S.Sp. Typical of most missionaries on ‘home-leave’, Fr. Trinh divided his time between visiting benefactor groups, presiding at Mission Appeal liturgies, helping out with preparations for a Gala Dinner and squeezing in time for some rest and relaxation with family, friends and confreres.
Born in Cantho, Vietnam in January 1954, he came to the United States in 1994 through the sponsorship of his physician brother, Dr. Thomas Le. After successful surgery for Scoliosis of the spine, he studied English for two and half years at a community college in Baltimore, MD. Subsequently, he joined the Spiritans and completed his philosophy degree at the University of St. Thomas. After theological studies at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston and the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, he was ordained a priest in July 2007. He received his mission appointment to the Spiritan community recently established in Vietnam in September 2007 where he still ministers.
Fr. Trinh is the Director of the Spiritan Aspirant program in Ho Chi Minh City. He explained that this is a two year program for new Spiritan candidates with a focus on catechetical, biblical and especially English language studies. All new candidates complete the English as a Second Language (ESL) course. Currently, there are 14 students at this stage of Spiritan training, all of whom previously completed university degrees in subjects as diverse as hotel management, electronic engineering, social studies, and computer studies. Aspirants engage in a variety of pastoral settings every weekend, including visits to parishes, orphanages and AIDS patients.
In addition to formation and pastoral duties, Fr. Trinh Le and his three Spiritan confreres (Frs. Pat Palmer, Quoc Le and Frederic Rossignol) also coordinate three outreach programs: sponsorship program for poor students, house building program for poor families, and a rural water program.
The Spiritan formation and training program is spread over 11 years and consists of the following 5 stages : Aspirant Stage (2 years), Postulant /Philosophy Stage (2 years), Novitiate Stage (1 Year), Pastoral Missionary Experience Stage (2 Years) and Theological Training Stage (4 years). The first three phases occur in Vietnam while the final two occur in other countries. Fr. Trinh noted that there are presently 37 Vietnamese students in the various stages of Spiritan formation.