By Jessica Easthope
Deacon Joseph Hung Tran has had one goal since he was 12 years old: to become a priest.
“Pastors and priests who I’ve met before,” he said, “I desired and thought in my mind, ‘how can I be like him? How can I serve?’”
Now, at the age of 38, his dream is about to come true: he’ll be ordained on June 5.
For the last three years, the Diocese of Brooklyn has been his home. It’s far away from where he grew up in Vietnam, but he builds a new bond with the diverse community on his daily walks from St. Agatha’s parish to Sunset Park Playground.
“I feel very happy to work with people who come from different countries, different cultures, different languages,” Deacon Joseph said. “I love that and how to bring them up and build them up to work together.”
Armed with the Word of God and his favorite soccer ball, he passes people he hopes to be ministering to soon. His spiritual and physical health are top notch.
“For me, I really enjoy sports,” Deacon Joseph said. “Many people call me sport man. I really love how to play many sports: soccer; volleyball; badminton; tennis; billiards, and ping pong, too.”
Growing up in Vietnam, his dad was his spiritual guide, bringing him to attend Mass at 4 a.m. every day. He’s one of 10 children, the first boy after five girls.
“He said, ‘if there’s another girl, we’ll move to another town,’ so thank God it was me,” the deacon said. “But he said ‘if I have a boy, I will offer him up to Jesus, to God, for the vocation,’” he said.
Deacon Joseph says it’s not his favorite food, Vietnamese pho, that makes him feel most full – it’s serving others. Now he’s fulfilling that promise to God, with his love of Christ flowing from him every day.
“I feel very happy and peaceful when I can help others,” he said, “when I can serve others and when I can help the people recognize Jesus, recognize God and how they can enter the Catholic faith.”
He wants to bring an effervescent attitude to his mission of evangelization – making faith more rich so he can share it.