By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
From an early age, Helen Ta has always had a deep passion for serving the Catholic Church. Now, she has the opportunity to serve on a diocesan scale.
“The seed to serve in ministries was planted in my soul by God, and it continued to grow over time,” said Ta, who in March was named as the Diocese of Dallas Director of Intercultural Ministries.
As the Director of Intercultural Ministries, Ta will work as part of the Diocese of Dallas Ministries Office, serving as an advisor to Senior Director of Ministries Peter J. Ductrám on matters of cultural diversity and people with special pastoral needs.
“Mrs. Ta will be responsible for promoting advocacy, collaboration, and proper resources to empower Catholics from various culturally diverse communities into fuller participation in the faith life and evangelizing mission of our Church in the Diocese of Dallas,” Ductrám said.
Operating under the Diocese of Dallas Ministries Office, Ta will oversee initiatives that promote intercultural dialogue, foster greater understanding of cultural differences, and develop programs and services that meet the needs of diverse communities.
“My goal is to help the diocese build a more inclusive and diverse community of believers who are united in their faith and committed to serving one another in one body of Christ,” Ta said.
A native of Vietnam, Ta came to the U.S. while in high school. She immigrated to Dallas with her family after her father, an officer and a pilot with the South Vietnam Air Force during the Vietnam War who was captured by the Communist regime after the fall of Saigon, was released from captivity. Her father was released in 1982, arriving in the U.S. in 1989 and bringing over his family four years later.
“Realizing that our family’s future would be grim under the Communist regime, my father made the difficult decision to escape Vietnam and seek refuge in the United States,” Ta explained. “He sponsored my mother, my siblings, and me to come and join him here, where we could be reunited as a family.”
Ta credits her parents for instilling in her a love of her Catholic faith, noting that it had a significant impact on her upbringing.
“My parents, who were devoted Catholics, instilled this gift of faith in me and my siblings from an early age,” Ta explained. “We regularly prayed together as a family, and attending Holy Mass together was a part of our family’s routine. During family gatherings, we would come together in prayer, particularly during the anniversary of our grandparents’ passing.”
Ta said as a youth she attended daily Mass and was actively involved in church activities such as the youth choir, Christmas pageant, and May crowning.
“I also started contributing my savings at a young age to help build our local church and support the poor during Lent,” she said. “Serving the church has remained a lifelong passion of mine.”
While Ta had always found ways to be active in the church, it wasn’t until her oldest daughter began kindergarten that she began to feel a stronger call to serve. She began by joining the faith formation program as a catechist for St. Joseph Vietnamese Catholic Church in Grand Prairie. She would eventually serve as the parish catechetical leader at St. Joseph for 10 years.
Prior to joining the diocesan ministries staff, Ta served for two years as the director of faith formation at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Grand Prairie.
“My focus was on planning, integrating, implementing, and overseeing religious education and sacramental preparation for the parishioners. Specifically, I provided catechetical formation to students in first through 12th grade and oversaw the RCIA process for children and teens,” Ta said. “Overall, my goal was to serve the parish by ensuring that the faith formation programs were well-organized, effective, and helped the parishioners grow in their faith and deepen their relationship with God.”
Ta also served as a part of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission for five years.
As she steps into her new role, Ta said she seeks to cultivate a spirit of welcome and belonging among all Catholics in the diocese and help them to build up their faith communities.
“I’m excited to dive into the diversity of our local church and explore the cultural families that make up our faith community. I’m eager to learn more about their experiences, hopes, dreams, and needs,” Ta said. “As someone with a diverse background, I’m passionate to serve the Lord and the community in this capacity.”