On March 14, Laetare Sunday, Reverend Raymond M. Thu CMC, was installed as the first official Chaplain of the Vietnamese Catholic Community at St. Joseph Church in Raleigh. Fr. Thanh Nguyen, Pastor of Good Shepherd Church in Hope Mills, NC, celebrated Mass with Reverend Monsignor David D. Brockman, Vicar General of the Diocese, concelebrating and presiding at the Liturgy of Installation.
Fr. Thu ministers to the Vietnamese Catholic Community in the Triangle, which includes members from Wilson and Rocky Mount. The Vietnamese Community has been organized in the Raleigh area for some thirty years. They had been previously ministered to by Reverend Monsignor John M. David from the Diocese of Charlotte, who has since retired.
Fr. Thu belongs to the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix (CMC), which was founded in Vietnam in 1953. In 1975, after the fall of Saigon, he fled Vietnam by boat with 170 members of the CMC to the United States and settled in Southwest Missouri. He earned his BA in Philosophy at Conception Seminary College in Conception, Missouri, and his MA in Theology at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was ordained as priest of the CMC on August 6, 1987. Until now, his ministry has been in Missouri. He served as Director of the CMC Candidacy and as Chief Editor of a Vietnamese Catholic magazine named, Trai Tim Duc Me.
Since Fr. Thu came to the Diocese of Raleigh four months ago, Mass is celebrated at St Joseph in Vietnamese two times a week, serving 350-400 people. “I am very happy here in the Diocese of Raleigh,” he says, “especially among the faithful, celebrating liturgies, preparing the community for the Sacraments and visiting families in their homes. I am very happy here.” In Fr. Thu’s four short months, he has already visited 50-60 families to offer support and ascertain the community’s needs.
St. Joseph Church was one of three parishes created in the Diocese of Raleigh in 1968. It was formed to be a bi-racial community, with a mandate to care for the African American parishioners of St. Monica’s Church, which was being closed. Today, 40 years later, the parish is one of the most culturally diverse in the Diocese, with members including English- and French-speaking Africans, Montagnards from Southeast Asia, Vietnamese, Hispanic and Polish.
Vietnamese Mass is celebrated every Thursday evening at 7:30pm and Sunday at 5:00pm. For more information go to http://www.stjosephsraleigh.org/.
Above: Fr. Raymond M. Thu, CMC, at his Installation Mass as Chaplain to Vietnamese Catholic Community in the Triangle. The Mass was celebrated by Fr. Thanh Nguyen with Fr. Raymond Thu and Msgr. David D. Brockman concelebrating.
Below: Members of Triangle Vietnamese Catholic Community at Installation Mass for Father Raymond M. Thu.