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Teresa Huong Thi Nguyen professes first vows as a Sister of Providence

Sister Huong Nguyen, SP, is pictured with concelebrants for her profession of first vows, Father Joachim Thanh (left), of the Vietnamese Martyrs Parish in Tukwila, Wash., and her adopted brother Father Joseph Ky Nguyen.

“Let it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38.

That expresses the faith and devotion which led Teresa Huong Thi Nguyen to make profession of first vows as a Sister of Providence in Seattle on September 14. The vow ceremony was part of a liturgy at St. Joseph Residence attended by Sisters of Providence from Mother Joseph Province, in addition to members of the General Leadership Team from Montreal, Quebec. Also in attendance were four family members from Sister Huong’s native Vietnam and many friends.

“Now the public will know that I am committed to religious life,” Sister Huong said in a recent interview. “I know I am committed already, but people will recognize now that I am really a sister. I feel so blessed being a Sister of Providence. This is a way for me to do my call, free myself and serve poor people. That is my goal.” She hopes to achieve it through a ministry in organizing or administration.

Sister Huong was especially delighted to be joined in Seattle for her vow ceremony by her mother, Thu Tran, who traveled from Vietnam in her first visit to the United States, as well as by her adopted brother Father Joseph Ky Nguyen, her sister Bich Nguyen, and a brother-in-law, Hung Duong.

Bich Nguyen, who took over Huong’s florist shop when she moved to the United States, created the floral arrangements for the ceremony. Sister Huong used her talents as a seamstress to make her own dress for the occasion. Father Joseph was a concelebrant with Father Joachim Thanh, of the Vietnamese Martyrs Parish in Tukwila, Wash., who praised Sister Huong’s volunteer work with the parish.

It was a truly international and intercultural celebration, done in three languages – Vietnamese, English and Spanish – and followed by a reception. The parish choir, directed by Oanh Nguyen, filled the chapel with beautiful music, aided by cantor Sister Margaret Pastro, SP.

“My first thanks go to Almighty God for planting the seed of faith in my heart; and once the seed was planted thanks to so many people who have helped it grow,” Sister Huong told the guests in the packed chapel. “ ... My heart is filled with gratitude to all of you for your love, support, prayers, inspirations and encouragement.”

Huong was born in 1975 in Thanh Hoa province, North Vietnam, the fifth of nine children. After high school, she joined the Congregation of the Lovers of the Holy Cross of Thanh Hoa, and then later left that religious community to help her family during difficult times. She worked as a seamstress and florist to help put her sisters through school.

Huong met the Sisters of Providence through Sister Lang Tran, who gave her the email address of Sister Clare Lentz along with the Sisters of Providence website address. In March 2008, when Sister Clare and Sister Beverly Dunn were visiting in Hanoi, they paid a visit to Huong and her parents. After studying English, Huong was invited to the United States for a “Come and See” experience in West Seattle. While there, Huong lived with Sisters Beverly and Karen Hawkins and with another pre-candidate, Marie-Thèrèse Gnamazo, of Cameroon. In Seattle, Huong continued to study English while volunteering at Vincent House, Elizabeth House and Providence Mount St. Vincent. She also worked in food service at Providence Mount St. Vincent and at St. Joseph Residence.

In April 2010, Huong was welcomed as a candidate in a ceremony in the chapel at St. Joseph Residence. As a candidate and a canonical novice, she spent time in Spokane, studying theology at Gonzaga University and earning an AA degree at Spokane Community College. She also volunteered at the Women’s Hearth and at St. Ann’s Child Center. She returned to Seattle in June 2013 and began business administration studies at Seattle Central College. She plans to transfer to Seattle University next spring. Meanwhile, she is serving as a full-time service coordinator for housing at Providence Joseph House, in White Center.

Sister Huong said her canonical novitiate ended last April, allowing her time to prepare for her temporary vows in this second religious community. “This is my second time in formation, and the waiting time is not easy,” she said. The journey leading to this point has been step by step, from Come and See to candidate and to novice, she explained. But through it all she has learned and grown in her spirituality.

“My call is the same as our Mother of Sorrows, who said ‘yes’ to the Lord. I follow in her footsteps and will keep my commitment and be humble,” Sister Huong explained. “Mary did not understand what was happening to her. The angel said, ‘Just say yes.’

“I don’t know the future. My dream is to follow my call,” Sister Huong said. “Yes, I’m here. Whatever you say, I will do it. I am open to it and willing. I have the freedom to say ‘yes, I am open.’”

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