Vietnamese Catholics discuss leadership

(Miscellany/Christina Lee Knauss) Franciscan Father Khoa Nguyen, priest for Vietnamese ministry, speaks at Mass for the martyrs of Vietnam Nov. 14 at St. Martin de Porres Church in Columbia.

(Miscellany/Christina Lee Knauss) Franciscan Father Khoa Nguyen, priest for Vietnamese ministry, speaks at Mass for the martyrs of Vietnam Nov. 14 at St. Martin de Porres Church in Columbia.ROCK HILL—A recent leadership conference helped some Vietnamese Catholics learn how the Gospel message can help them reach out more effectively to others.

“The goal of this conference was to build up the community, to teach people how to be leaders in their faith community and in their personal lives,” said Franciscan Father Khoa Nguyen, a priest for Vietnamese ministry based at Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville.

The meeting was held at the Oratory Dec. 11 and drew approximately 150 people.

According to census figures, there are about 4,000 Vietnamese people in South Carolina, and the diocese serves about 1,500. Most live in Charleston, Columbia, Myrtle Beach, Rock Hill and Greenville.

The next move will be to focus on meetings at the parish level, then the state, Father Khoa said in an interview with The Miscellany.

“This was the first time these people could get together to talk, to share their struggles, and talk about efforts to live their faith with others and in their own families,” he said. “This was a good first step, and people said they were appreciative about the chance to get together.”

He led a workshop on “Christian Leadership: Faith Formation and Leading Others by Faith Example.”

A session led by Father Binh Nguyen, a Divine Word Missionary from St. Louis, Mo., focused on Christian leadership in the light of the Gospel. Other presenters spoke about leadership in the business world, organizing effective committees, communication skills, and forming stronger faith communities.

Father Khoa asked the group to learn the needs in their parishes, and to set goals for future growth and collaboration. He said he hopes the group will meet again in the spring to talk about short and long-term goals for building a more effective and vibrant community.

Vietnamese Catholics face several challenges, he said, such as finding ways to express their faith in their native language and to preserve cultural traditions. Father Khoa would also like to see more programs for Vietnamese youth and seniors.

Chuong Le, a restaurant manager from Greenville, said he learned about the similarities and differences between being a leader in the business world and a leader in the faith community.

“This conference was important because we as Vietnamese Catholics had never had the opportunity to have one time together, to meet each other and learn about leadership in the church,” he said.

Lee Beu said the workshops taught her how faith could help her focus on reaching goals in her daily life, and how God’s love can help overcome difficulties at all levels. Beu is a member of the St. Michael Catholic Community at Fort Jackson, and also attends St. Martin de Porres Church in Columbia.

“I learned that in Christian life as well as in business life, we have to do our best even though things might not always go the way we want it to,” she said. “I learned that the closer to God we are, the more challenges we are going to have and be able to deal with. Because of my faith, I can live according to His way, and not try to fit in with everybody else in this world.”