In the last few years, I have said to numerous people that once you’ve been to St. Lambert whether for years, months, or a few weeks, you belong – you will always have a place here. I firmly believe it, but I recently was blessed with the opportunity to see this reality reach across more than 4 decades.
This July, Annie Nguyen from Vancouver, Washington called the office and spoke with Cheryl about her parents’ connection to St. Lambert and asking if anything could be found in the archives regarding them. Rosemarie went through some things and a bulletin from December 7-15, 1975 gave a snapshot of the family.
“Two weeks ago a Committee of Concerned welcomed the Family of Biet Van Nguyen – parents, four little children, a brother and a sister of Biet – to the St. Lambert Family. Then the blizzard came . . and we find this family in need of clothing for winter . . . . .”
Two St. Lambert families sponsored the Van Nguyen family to come from a refugee camp at Ft. Chaffee, Arizona after escaping communism oppression and Christian persecution in Vietnam. Annie was not one of the “four little children” mentioned in the bulletin but one of the 4 children born after coming to the US. Her parents were returning to South Dakota on a trip and wanted to stop at St. Lambert and she was helping facilitate the trip. The visit was to occur on a Saturday and we exchanged contact information and I made plans to greet them.
When they arrived, it was clear that though a great many years had gone by, Biet and Lac felt a deep connection to the St. Lambert family and spoke with great animation and joy about Fr. Ryan and the friends they made here. In a serious moment, Biet stated that if it weren’t for St. Lambert, they would not be here. They were very excited to see the growth and numerous changes of the whole facility. Though a wedding was taking place at the time, requiring them to look into the main church through the windows and chapel rather than entering, they were struck by the beauty of the sanctuary. The tour ended in the Mary garden where pictures were taken and hugs and well wishes were exchanged.
They are hopeful to one day return for a longer visit and attend Mass. The Van Nguyen’s proved once again that Family is Forever – once you come to St. Lambert, you belong and will always have a place. “Church” was never intended to mean a building, but a people. St. Lambert is more than a community of believers, we are a family – a people changed by Christ.
Biet and Lac, all 8 children and their own families currently live very close to one another in Oregon…..cities of Portland, Beaverton, Tigard and Clackamas. The driving distant of no more than 30-40 mins apart.