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Deacon Le’s ministry is shaped by his experience of being a refugee

By VERONICA AMBUUL
12/04/2020 | Comments

Editor’s Note: Following is the next installment of the Herald’s monthly series profiling priests and deacons serving in the Diocese of Colorado Springs. Featured this month is Deacon Anthony Donbosco Le, who is currently assigned to Vietnamese Holy Martyrs Parish and St. Patrick Parish.

 

Deacon Anthony Donbosco Le was born and raised as a Catholic in the war-torn country of Vietnam. He has six siblings, two sisters and four brothers. Only one sister and two brothers have survived. The others died due to sickness or went missing while escaping from Vietnam.

 Like many other Catholic children, Donbosco would wake up early, walk to daily 5 a.m. Mass and pray the rosary with his family every night.

In 1986, his mother arranged for her children to escape the communist regime by boat one after another so they could continue their faith as Catholics. It was hard for his mother to let Donbosco escape by himself, but she knew his life would be wasted if he stayed, and eventually he would be forced to join the communists.

He and 170 other people packed on a fishing boat that was about 55 feet long. They ran into a huge storm on the second night. The waves tossed their tiny boat up and down throughout the night. Terrified and thinking that the boat would crash, Donbosco prayed and begged: “Lord, save me!” He thought that he would surely die that night. Even though his faith at that time was not strong, he still called to God because he only knew, worshipped, and prayed to God his whole life. Six days and seven nights he and others were afloat on the ocean without any directions or indication of mainland. He was thirsty, hungry, cold, lonely, afraid, and missing his family. Then one night, he saw the light from an offshore rig and headed there to get help. Donbosco and others were rescued by an Indonesian ship. He stayed in a refugee camp for 18 months before coming to the United States.

Donbosco believes God saved him for a reason; he was given a second chance at life to be of service to others. In the refugee camp, he joined the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement, which is a non-profit organization under the leadership of the Catholic Church. Its aim is to teach youths to be virtuous people and good Christians.

Throughout its years of service, the movement has kept pace with social and cultural changes of the day. The Eucharistic Youth Movement has two general purposes: to organize and to guide all youths in spreading the Good News of the Gospel and to actively be involved in working for the good of society through charitable services and helping others.

When Donbosco came to the United States, he joined the choir, youth ministries, served as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, and taught religious education at various Vietnamese parishes.

Donbosco has been married 17 years and does not have children. After 10 years of work as an electronic technician, he was planning to open an electronic repair shop. Due to a disc rupture in his back, he changed his career and opened his own business working as a tailor.

During this time, he also attended the Denver Catholic Biblical School and Catechetical School. During the second year of the Catechetical School, Donbosco joined the diaconate formation program. He was one of 19 men ordained a permanent deacon on June 20 by Bishop Michael Sheridan.

“The Lord shows himself patient with me; he will never abandon me in my struggles, allowing me to perish for every mistake,” Deacon Le said. “God is with me, and he is always there stretching out his hand, ready to lift me up again. Through all the significant events in my life, I came to know the meaning of Jesus’ message: ‘You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in his name, he may give it to you’ (John 15:16). I truly believe that God brought me, my wife and my family on this extended journey from Vietnam. He guided me through to the refugee camp and then to United States so that we could freely pray, worship, study and serve for the sake of the Kingdom. With my experience of suffering, I love to be listened to and share with everyone.”

(Those who feel that they might be called to a vocation as a priest or permanent deacon can contact Father Kyle Ingels at kingels@diocs.org or Deacon Chris Kennedy at ckennedy@diocs.org for more information.)


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