By MICHAEL GRESHAM / The Texas Catholic
The journey of Huy “Francis” Huynh’s life has had its share of tumultuous detours.
Born in 1953 in South Vietnam during the height of communist turmoil, the death of his father while Huynh was just a child spurred the young seminarian to leave behind family, friends and all his possessions as he fled his country in hopes of finding a better life.
Through it all, though, there has been one constant guiding the now 60-year-old along the way: his Catholic faith.
“I think I’ve gone through life not carefree, but not worrying too much about where life will take me,” Huynh said. “I’ve always felt that God is leading me. He will take care of me.”
This February, Huynh takes yet another step on that journey as he joins a class of 27 candidates being ordained as permanent deacons within the Diocese of Dallas.
“Throughout my life, my journey of faith is ongoing,” Huynh said. “Maybe this is just a continuation of that journey, but I also think it is a beginning of a new chapter – one where I expose myself more publicly in my faith.”
The oldest of four children born to Catholic parents, Huynh’s father dreamed one day his son would become a priest in his native South Vietnam. When Huynh was just 7, though, his father died after becoming seriously ill from a disease he had contracted in his youth while being forced by the communist guerrillas to carry ammunitions and supplies in the jungles.
“A few years before his death, my father visited La Vang, where he had a conversion after hearing a priest speak,” said Huynh, who explained that La Vang is an important site of pilgrimage for Catholics in Vietnam as it marks the location of a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary that was seen there in 1798. “So before he died, he made my mother promise that she would send me to a seminary so that I could study to become a priest.”
While dealing with the tragedy of his father’s death, Huynh’s Catholic faith began to deepen.
“I remember when my father died, the other kids would tease me about being an orphan. I cried a lot about it,” Huynh said. “Somehow, someone told me, ‘God is your father now. He’ll take care of you.’ That has always stuck with me.”