Salesian seeks work in unstable area

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Salesian Brother Minh Duc Dang, a native of Vietnam whose family immigrated to the United States in 1992 and joined Church of the Nativity in Burke, pronounced a perpetual vow of obedience, poverty and chastity Aug. 9. He pledged himself, in the words of the formula of religious profession, "to devote all my strength to those to whom (God the Father) will send me, especially to young people who are poorer; to live in the Salesian Society in communion of spirit and action with my brothers; and in this way to share in the life and mission of (God's) church."

Brother Minh's parents, Thuy Van Dang and Tin Thi Do, attend Mass at Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Church in Arlington. He is the second-youngest of nine siblings.

The Mass of Perpetual Profession took place at the Marian Shrine Chapel in Haverstraw, N.Y., with Father Steve Shafran, provincial, presiding and receiving the vows in the name of the rector major of the Salesians of St. John Bosco. Another 40 Salesian priests and brothers took part in the Mass, along with seven Salesian sisters, 14 Salesian Lay Missioners, as well as family and friends.

Brother Minh started college at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana but transferred to Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., in 2006 after entering the Salesian formation program. He earned his bachelor's in philosophy in 2007. He completed his novitiate at St. Joseph's Novitiate attached to Holy Rosary Church in Port Chester, N.Y., and made his first profession of religious vows Aug. 16, 2009. He became a Salesian, he says, because he wanted to bring Christ to others.

Returning to Orange for two years of postnovitiate formation, he worked toward a master's in education at Seton Hall. He taught freshman theology at Don Bosco Preparatory High School in Ramsey, N.J., 2011-13.

In 2013, his application as a volunteer for the foreign missions was accepted by the rector major. A former member of the New Rochelle Province, he was incardinated in the Middle East Province. He is about to start his third year as a student of theology at the Ratisbonne Institute in Jerusalem while also working at the Salesian youth center in Bethlehem. He said he is studying Arabic, too, so that he might "work with people who have been displaced by war, especially children," in that "unstable and volatile" part of the world. He retains his aspiration to "be a witness of Christ to others."

Brother Minh credits Father Richard B. Martin, the former pastor of Nativity who died last year, and an aunt, Sister Binh, with encouraging a religious vocation. Among the Salesians, he found a good many "witnesses of joy, patience and love."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015