Fr. Joseph's Personal Plea

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Father Chris with Sr. Thom (to his right ) at his diaconate ordination in 2013.

By Fr. Chris Alar, MIC (Feb. 1, 2017)

As a priest, it is not uncommon for me to come into contact with many holy people throughout my travels and daily activities. But I am not sure if I have ever met someone quite like a nun from South Vietnam named Sr. Thom Vu. Sent to the United States six years ago by her religious community from Saigon (Lovers of the Holy Cross), Sr. Thom was tasked to learn English and earn a masters degree in theology. I met her while I was a seminarian at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut, and I was quickly humbled by her work ethic, her tireless dedication to her community, and, most of all, her unwavering love of God.

After I was ordained in 2014, we parted ways but remained in contact. Then, on Jan. 20 of this year (after completing her degree), Sr. Thom returned to Vietnam. What she discovered was heartbreaking. Not being told by her parents, so as to not worry her during her studies, she learned that her father, Bang Van Vu, was very sick. So sick, in fact, that he is going blind and is bed-ridden in the hospital with kidney failure. At this point, only dialysis will keep him alive, but the doctors say with this treatment he can make a recovery. She takes turns with her mother at his bedside, each doing 12-hour "shifts" to provide the smallest amount of comfort and prayer for him. The problem for the family, however, is that they don't have insurance for this kind of medical care, and they do not have any money for even the most basic of all necessities, such as food.

So how did they get into this situation? Well, the Vietnamese culture is quite different from ours in America. In their family structure, the youngest son has an "obligation" to provide for his parents in their elderly years, and then his son will provide for him and his spouse as they age, and so on. Unfortunately, Sr. Thom's brother (Bang Vu's son) died a few months ago of appendicitis. In other words, not only do they have no money to provide for basic living expenses, and what little money they had has been spent in desperate hope of keeping this patriarch of the family alive, their son is no longer there to provide for them. To compound the issue, neither of Sr. Thom's parents are able to work because of health issues (he is only 58 years old). It is truly a situation that requires the utmost trust in God.

Trust — well, that is exactly what this family has held on to. In a Communist country such as Vietnam, being Catholic is not only rare, it's downright dangerous. Yet this family has been Catholic since the French came to Indochina decades ago and brought the faith with them. It is now this faith that is seeing this family through in the toughest of situations. Therefore, I beg your prayers for this special nun and her family. I know many of us are in need, but this family has been given a special cross from our Lord, and I feel personally compelled to try to aid in any way I can.

Would you please consider joining me in praying for them? In addition, any amount of financial assistance would be greatly appreciated. This is a special lady who has given her life to serve Jesus and His Church in a country that doesn't understand what it means to be a Christian. Yet, she certainly does.

If you are interested in helping, please offer your prayers and any donation possible. You can donate online or send a check made to Association of Marian Helpers (with the memo note: Fr. Joseph's Fund for Sr. Thom) and mail to: Association of Marian Helpers, 2 Prospect Hill Road, Stockbridge, MA 01263, or call 1-800-462-7426 to make a credit card donation by phone.

Thank you, God bless you, and know that you are in my prayers.

Father Chris Alar, MIC, serves as "Fr. Joseph, MIC," the title given to the director of the Association of Marian Helpers.

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Editor - May 5, 2017

Hi all. We'll be including the following update in the next issue of Marian Helper magazine, which comes out at the end of the month:

Sister Thom Vu sends her gratitude to all Marian Helpers who extended prayers and financial assistance for her family. In the Spring issue of Marian Helper, Fr. Joseph, MIC, shared the story of the recent struggles of Sr. Thom, a friend from his seminary days in Connecticut who had since moved back to her native Vietnam.

In Vietnam, Sr. Thom was struggling to care for her sick father, and in the meantime, the family was broke and hungry. Just after the Spring issue went to press in March, her father died. He was only 58. In the two weeks before his death, donations from Marian Helpers paid for screens, which finally kept the mosquitos out (they had been feasting on his ravaged body). Donations also paid for his burial, and for the first time in their entire lives, the family has food on their table every day, and a stove and refrigerator.

“Your donations allowed my father to have a peaceful death,” said Sr. Thom. “They allowed my family to survive — and me to go back to my religious community.”

We’ll continue to keep Sr. Thom’s family in our prayers.

Lee Leung Lo - Apr 29, 2017

Dear Fr Chris,
Do you have any update on Sr Thom's Dad since February?

Raphael - Mar 11, 2017

I have sent you a donation for sister Thom and her family. May God's healing power bring new life and health to Sister Thom's dad! Amen.

Gin - Feb 4, 2017

Prayers sent!!!

All nine of us will offer up our family Rosary for Bang - Feb 4, 2017

We will pray together for the whole family. Thank you for telling us about their plight so we can share together in this mission.

Pat Mobilik - Feb 1, 2017

Eternal Father, graciously hear us!

Linda Szudy - Feb 1, 2017

I pray our Lord Jesus opens the floodgates of mercy on Sister Thom, father, and her family. I trust in Jesus that He will heal any suffering this family, and provide them in all their necessities.

COLLEEN AND PAUL - Feb 1, 2017

We will be praying and ask all of the attendees we have had for our HAPP groups to pray for her and her family and hopefully donate. A little from here goes a long way over there. Once again we say how blessed we are as a people and a nation to trust in God.

DM Apostle - Feb 1, 2017

His body is filled with poison - donations will pay for dialysis and he can recover. In addition, her family needs food and basic necessities that we take for granted in the U.S.

DM Apostle - Feb 1, 2017

Please pray for Sr. Thom and her family!

Carole - Feb 1, 2017

I will be adding Sr. Thom and her family to my daily intentions. Be merciful to them O Lord.

Andi - Feb 1, 2017


Maria Goretti - Feb 1, 2017

Lord Jesus, son of David, have pity on Sister Thom's father!

Monica Corpus - Feb 1, 2017

I went through something similar with my Father. He had systematic MRSA and dyalisis. Each day my Mother and I prayed to the Blessed Sacrament along with strangers that helped us pray. I shall assist in praying. Faith and prayer!