“Trust in God.” That message comes through loud and clear with even a brief conversation with Sr. MaryAnn Vu.
Her life has given her plenty of opportunities to demonstrate that trust. She trusted even as police detained her and her family as they where on their way out of Vietnam after the war. She was carrying medication for the journey which would have given her away as the organizer meaning a potential more severe punishment than the others.
And she trusts today, as she witnesses to those around her for the last 20+ years as she struggled with medical issues, first in Spokane and then in Seattle.
She lives her life following two precepts. The first she attributes to St. Vincent de Paul, “When you no longer burn with love, others might die of the cold.” And the second to Mother Joseph: “Whatever concerns the poor is always our affair.”
Her degrees in Physics and Chemistry prepared her for teaching in her native Vietnam but, once the communists took over, she was prohibited from teaching and was assigned by the authorities to factory work.
The decision to flee Vietnam with her family was difficult. She did not want to get her original religious order into trouble and feared what might happen if captured by Thai pirates. In her prayer, she told Jesus she would trust in His guidance.
After years of unsuccessful attempts and many opportunities to place her trust in God, she finally immigrated to the U.S. in 1983 after two years in Germany where her sister lived. One of her first duties was to work on the for the canonization for 117 Vietnamese Martyrs. She certainly had a sense of their challenges.
Fortunately, life is somewhat calmer now.
Sr. AnnMary tells the story of a resident of Providence’s Emilie Court Assisted Living in Spokane who was disenchanted with the Church. By the witness of Sr. AnnMary’s “no-strings-attached” care, the woman eventually asked for a visit by a priest. After her subsequent reconciliation, nurses and others around her noticed a new joy coming from the woman and wondered what had happened.
“It just shows you that no matter what the stage of your life, you can still do something powerful for God,” said Sr. AnnMary. “Elderly people are still valuable.”
Sr. AnnMary has taught (she has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry) and excels in mathematics. She joined the Adorers of the Holy Cross order in 1962 and transferred to the Sisters of Providence in 2003.
You can read more about Sr. MaryAnn’s story in this 2012 piece from her 50 year Jubilee – 50 Years: AnnMary Vu, SP – Sisters of Providence, Mother Joseph Province