Son Lai, Fr. Richard Bennett, Andrew Tran-Chung, and Sean Wu take a selfie in the sacristy before Fr. Richard’s Installation Mass at Immaculate Conception Parish in the Bronx.
Son Lai, Fr. Richard Bennett, Andrew Tran-Chung, and Sean Wu take a selfie in the sacristy before Fr. Richard’s Installation Mass at Immaculate Conception Parish in the Bronx.

Report from the Bronx

A Redemptorist Seminarian Recaps His Fall semester at Redemptorist Formation Residence

by Andrew Tran-Chung

We’re wrapping up a wonderful semester here in the Bronx—one filled with times for community, ministry, school and prayer. We welcomed three new postulants this semester: Sean Wu from Boston, Juannier Rodriguez from Cuba, and Huy Pham from Indiana. They have all been tremendous inclusions to our community. Cody Hill, Dang Nguyen, Son Lai and I are finishing up our final fall semester in the Bronx as we look forward to applying to the Novitiate in a few months.

Sean, Juannier, Huy and I teach Catechism and Confirmation to high school students at Immaculate Conception Parish on Friday nights. I’m having an incredible time setting up for class: putting out candles for each student, facilitating discussions, and sharing my faith. On Sundays, Dang plays the piano at the 9:30 Mass, Huy helps out at the Children’s Liturgy, and I cantor at the 12:30 Mass. Cody, Dang, Son and I continue to do the Hope Walks every Wednesday. Students from Immaculate Conception Catholic School consistently have joined us each week this semester, and Marty Rogers has started to hand the reins to us to lead the group on our mission to serve our homeless brothers and sisters.

Sean Wu, Juannier Rodriguez, and Cody Hill on a nine-mile hike in the Catskills.

Most of us seem to have caught the fitness bug this year. I started running seven to eight miles on Sundays, which quickly became six- to seven-mile runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays with Son, Sean and Cody. We did a nine-mile hike in the Catskills back in October. I’m proud to say that most of us survived that four-hour trek. And of course, what is New York without the incredible number of long walks that we’ve been doing— the Rosary walks that Son and Dang go on, or Son challenging himself by walking 20 miles to Chinatown and back. It’s not just fitness that unites us. We’re having an incredible time preparing liturgies and prayers, and learning new hymns, or at least trying to. We also invite others to join us in the kitchen as we learn and practice various cooking techniques. I’m proud to say Sean has progressed to making homemade Caesar dressing! Our house is filled with cakes and pies that we’ll decide to bake on a random weekday night after prayer. Nothing makes a house warmer than the scent of vanilla and cinnamon wafting from the kitchen all the way up to our rooms on the third floor.

We hosted the Come & See back in October, welcoming 11 prospects and the vocations directors, who joined us on our monthly retreat at San Alfonso in Jersey. We hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for more than 30 people from Brooklyn, West End, Long Island and the Bronx. On Thanksgiving Day, we once again joined with the parish to host a Thanksgiving dinner for our brothers and sisters in need. We delivered almost 300 meals to the homebound and served about 300 people in person!

As we wrap up this semester, we seem to be speeding ahead to the end of the year. It seems like just last week we started school. The days were longer, and the air much, much hotter. Now our Christmas trees are up, the lights and garland are strung down the hallway, it’s freezing cold outside, and we’re completing finals this week.

Son and I also are joining Fr. Dominic Bao Tran and Fr. Aaron Meszaros in San Antonio and Tucson for the Co-Redemptorists Appeals in the coming weeks. Dang and Huy helped out at a VEYM Advent Retreat at St. John Neumann Shrine in Philadelphia. Very soon, we’ll be wishing farewell to our formator, Fr. Joe Thong Ngo, as he moves to his new assignment as rector in Kansas City. He will be thoroughly missed, especially for his memorable homilies—even ones using eggs and fish sauce (separately). We’ve had an amazing time as a community this

semester, and with Fr. Greg May and Fr. Jim Gilmour joining us soon, I’m excited to see how our house grows in community, mission and prayer.

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