Sister Maria Bich Nguyen, R.P.B.
As a young girl growing up in Viet Nam during the war, I held a deep desire in my heart to give my life to God as a Sister. In 1975 when the Communists took over South Viet Nam, I thought my dream was ended. Today I thank God that I have now made my Final Vows as a Precious Blood Sister. What has transpired in that time?
Life was not easy for my mother and family during the post-war years. We knew much hardship and poverty. My father had died in 1967 and my oldest brother fought with the Resistance during the war and afterwards he had to flee the country. For five years we thought he was dead until one day we got a letter from him telling us that he was living in the USA.
For the next ten years, I made many attempts to escape the country. Something seemed to be driving me onwards. During all this time fear was my constant companion. The Communist police would often come at night to search our home. Several times I saw all the money my family had saved, disappear in a futile attempt to escape. Then I said I would try one more time.
There were 77 of us on that small boat and for one week we sailed the South China Sea. We had no room to move around, no food to eat and only a small amount of water which was mixed with the saltwater of the sea, to drink. Finally on March 15th, 1989 we were rescued by a bigger boat and taken to a small refugee camp. After a month there, with very little to eat and many fears to face especially at night, we were taken to the large Galang Camp in Indonesia. Through a priest friend in the diocese of Calgary, I was able to make application to come to Canada.
My original plan when I got settled in Calgary was to make money and help support my family back in Viet Nam. I worked as a seamstress in a factory making sportswear. I lived freely and happily with friends. But there was something missing. This deep desire to be a Sister was surfacing once again. I spoke with the parish priest at St. Vincent Liem’s Church and asked him ‘where are the Sisters?’ Father directed me to the Precious Blood Monastery. For the next several months I went every weekend to the monastery. I found a new peace in my heart and I wanted to pursue this vocation further.
Profession of Vows. As I look at my life and see the circuitous path that it has taken, the feeling of deep GRATITUDE and JOY for God’s care of me is overwhelming. He was with me when I hid from the Communist authorities in the forests of Viet Nam, He watched over me on the boat when it I could easily have died at sea, He helped me to finally escape and find my vocation here in Canada. Like any vocation that of a Precious Blood Sister is a process. My vocation gradually unfolded as God took the lead. The daily rhythm of the monastery, the atmosphere of prayer and silence feed that deep longing in my heart for God.
Another JOY that I often experience is that of being able to listen to others’ cares and to carry them in my heart. My life of intercessory prayer lived in union with Jesus who gave every drop of His Precious Blood for us, brings me a sense of peace and a deep desire to reach out to our suffering brothers and sisters. I know what it is to be afraid, to be alone. These past experiences help to make my prayer more concrete as I ‘walk with’ so many who come asking for our prayer support.
My vocation does indeed have it challenges. The loneliness of being far away from family and homeland, the struggle to learn English, and the adjustment required to live in an enclosed, multi-generational community have ‘stretched’ me to give my ‘all’. When the ‘cross’ pinches and seems too heavy to bear, I recall the events of my initial call and know that I am not alone. I feel very privileged to be ‘chosen’ to live the life of a Precious Blood Sister and in the words of our Rule:
“to offer myself on behalf of the whole human family in reparation, intercession, praise and thanksgiving”.
The dream I had as a young child is still unfolding. Please thank God with me for all the graces He has given me through my life’s journey. I made my Final Profession of Vows on September 20th, 2003 at St. Vincent Liem’s Church in Calgary.
Praise the Lord! Sister thank you for sharing your story, it is so wonderful to see how God has lead you in your life!