June 23, 2024

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we gather on this Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time, the Scriptures from today’s Mass deliver a profound message of hope, resonating deeply with my own journey through life’s tempests and the unwavering presence of God.

Growing up amidst the chaos of the Vietnam War, facing its traumatic aftermath, and resettling in the United States as a teenager, I have encountered many hardships that tested my faith. As your priest, I am privileged to accompany you through your own trials—be it poverty, illness, distress, or other challenges. Daily, people in profound need seek solace and hope within our Church, and I find myself deeply engaged, striving to offer compassion and empathy, even amidst my own burdens.

Yet, amid these personal and communal challenges, the truth that only God can calm life’s storms remains evident. Our faith, tested in moments of vulnerability, emerges stronger. Like the disciples on the Sea of Galilee, panicked amidst a violent storm, I too have felt the Lord’s reassuring presence when most needed. Jesus’ calming presence reminds us that even amidst seemingly insurmountable problems, He is with us—often in quiet whispers, extended hands, promises of prayer, or gestures of support.

This Sunday’s Gospel illuminates our human experience of navigating stormy times—a call to lean on Christ not only in crises but in every moment of our lives. Reflect on your own experiences and recognize where Christ has been present. Recall those instances when you reached out in panic, feeling His calming presence just as despair seemed to take hold. Jesus’ calming of the turbulent sea is not just symbolic; it’s a promise of His control over life’s chaos, a lesson that even when our faith wavers, His immediate response to our cries assures us of His guidance to safety.

Our hope amidst life’s storms lies in trusting Jesus, listening attentively for His gentle whisper, assured that He is always near. Christ is our anchor, and our faith in Him, alongside the love and support of our Church community, will guide us through any tempest.

I am filled with profound gratitude to God that, despite the storms I’ve faced, none have dimmed my positive outlook on life or my joyful spirit. On the contrary, these trials have strengthened my faith that Christ journeys with me, guiding me through tumultuous waters.

In closing, I wish to share with you the joyous news that I recently had the privilege to concelebrate the Mass of Thanksgiving with newly ordained Father Joseph V. Nguyen “JV” in North Vietnam. It was a celebration marked by profound joy and moving testimonies of faith, reminding us of the enduring power of God’s presence in our lives. Like me, this young priest has been through so many hardships in life, but they have only served to strengthen his religious commitment. His story is an inspiring illustration of Jesus’ transforming power in our lives, showing us that even amidst life’s greatest challenges, God’s grace sustains and empowers us.

Additionally, having spent a few days in Hanoi, North Vietnam, I will now journey to Saigon, South Vietnam, to be present at my spiritual son’s Mass of Thanksgiving, Father Joseph C. Le. This part of the trip allows me to visit my former parish where I was born and raised, and to spend time with my extended family. Rest assured that I will always remember you at the Altar each day.

In prayerful solidarity,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham