A fatal disease suddenly come up his life seemed to stop everything, but it has been a precious time to praise and thank God for his abundant grace upon Fr. Joseph’s life.
Tracing back to the life of a Jesuit since he entered the novitiate nearly 50 years ago, what surprises me is not an excellent man but a humble man embraced with profound Jesuit values.
Peace in God is the first core value which has followed his life journey since he was a novice in 1972. This peace has been grounded in the rock of Jesus when he took the vow in 1974 at Pius X Pontifical College of Dalat, Vietnam. The unforgettable event of the April, 1975 which marked a significant transformation for all Vietnamese people had troubled the local church and religious life as well. As a scholastic, he had strived his best to survive, to serve the church and people, and to maintain his faithful commitment to God in peace.
Then, the experience of five years in prison had sustained his faith and conviction in Jesuit vocation. He had endured this difficult period courageously and accomplished the mission in secret and hidden time. The event of 1975 and his suffering as a Jesuit in Vietnamese Province were incorporated with the suffering of Christ in the Suppression of the Society of Jesus. The grace he received was that he has not been suppressed; instead of this, his peace in God has not only been sustained but also grown in Christ. He has followed Jesus Christ in suffering.
He was ordained in 1995 after more than 20 years taking the vow. In peaceful time afterward, he accomplished intellectual training period in the US and came back to receive various great responsibilities in humble obedience such as Librarian of Region, Director of St. Peter Faber Retreat House, Coordinator of the S.E. Ministry, National Ecclesiastical Assistant of CLC, Provincial Superior, Chairperson of Ignatian Spirituality Committee…
As he shared in the mass, his inner joys come from his peace and growing in Christ. God has given him certain talents and he has cooperated to make them growing so that he can serve better by “magis” in this little Order. His biggest happiness is to give the Spiritual Exercises. By living these core values which is rooted in Ignatian Spirituality, he now can receive this fatal illness with peace and gratitude for a life of grace.
Vietnamese Province congratulated him and gave thank with him for the grace of serving the Church and the people of God for nearly half a century in the Society.
His message of peace and growing in Christ would echo and inspire many of our young Jesuits.