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March 14, 2016 | Volume 91 Number 10

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photo: Nam Tran says he is following a path that “made sense for me.”

Nam Tran says he is following a path that “made sense for me.”

Becoming a Catholic comes with asking questions

When he is baptized at the Easter vigil and enters the full sacramental life of the Catholic Church at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Nam Tran says he is following a path that “made sense for me.”

Born in Paris, and the son of Vietnamese parents, Nam came to the United States at age 10 and lived initially in Woodbridge with relatives already in the U.S., but a few months later moved to Fairfax County where his parents and older sister still live.

“My parents were Buddhist, but they only went to temple once a year,” Mr. Tran told The Catholic Virginian, adding that “I rarely went with them.”

After graduating from Lake Braddock High School in Burke, he entered Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond in August of 2006.

“Growing up, I believed in God, but I never practiced anything,” he said.

While he had an aunt who was Catholic and went to Mass regularly, he never accompanied her.

At VCU where he was an engineering student who graduated in 2010, Mr. Tran, now 27, met a classmate in 2008 who added much joy to his life.

“My girlfriend, Victoria, is Catholic and from a Vietnamese background,” he said, adding that her family attends St. Jerome Parish in Newport News.

“When we started getting more serious I went to Mass with her occasionally. It was my decision to go with her to the Cathedral.

“Whenever she would go home... on vacation break or major holidays, if I visited her family I would go with them to church.”

“So being new, in the beginning, everything was completely new to me from start to finish.”

Mr. Tran was affected by the music he heard at Mass.

“What struck me most was the music. It was just very moving,” he explained. “It made me more curious about the religion. I began going more often, but not every Sunday.”

But with Mass attendance came some questions.

“Whenever I was unsure about something, I’d ask Victoria more about the procedure of the Mass,” he said.

“There wasn’t questions about the homily or the readings,” he continued. “They spoke for themselves and the message was clear.”

Mr. Tran, who works with an engineering firm in Richmond, chose to enter the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults at Cathedral. Victoria had inquired about the RCIA process and contacted Maria Thorsen, Director of Religious Education at Cathedral.

“She emailed Maria and told her our story,” Mr. Tran said. “Next thing I knew I was signed up.”

With thoughts of marriage in the future, Mr. Tran felt it was important to share the same faith with Victoria and her parents.

“Her parents are very involved in their church and it is important for me to be baptized before we take the next step,” he explained.

“It’s a combination of me wanting to do this for myself, but also for us as a couple.”

As he became more familiar with the liturgy and Church teachings, Mr. Tran had no hesitation about moving forward.

“Before, it was more about me finding myself with the religion and God,” he said.

“My parents didn’t mind,” he continued. “They had never pressured me to become a Buddhist and they always encouraged me to make my own decisions so they were fine with it.”

“I was excited to get started. It’s been very fulfilling and the Catholic community has been very welcoming.”

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