President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., greets Fr. Đào Xuân Thành, the first pastor of Vietnamese Martyrs, the first Vietnamese Catholic parish in Seattle as Venerable Thich Trung Sỹ, PhD, looks on. Father Thành and Venerable Trung Sỹ were on campus to participate in a panel, “Spirit of Caring: An Interfaith Approach to Supporting Vietnamese American Youth in the Local Neighborhood.”
With nearly 8,000 parishioners, Vietnamese Martyrs is located at 1230 E. Fir St., just steps away from the university and within the Bailey Gatzert neighborhood that is the focal point of the Seattle University Youth Initiative. The parish has a vibrant youth program, begun in 1985, that serves more than 300 youths ages 7 to 17 under the guidance of 50 youth leaders who offer a wholistic cultural, spiritual and educational experience. Five former youth leaders have gone onto become Northwest Province Jesuits.
Twenty-five youth and youth leaders were on campus for the May 25 event. Son Tran, a Boeing engineer, who trains youth leaders at the church, spoke on the panel and invited Seattle University’s partnership, specifically asking the university to consider opening its facilities to the youth program, which is bursting at the seams and perpetually in search of facilities. He also welcomed the university’s help in teaching, mentoring, counseling or offering workshops on spirituality and leadership.
The event inspired much talk of future collaborations between the university and the youth program. One idea that surfaced was whether there was some way of involving some of the youths in the immersion trips that many Seattle University students take. Fr. Thành invites faculty, staff and students to contribute our expertise in planning the new facility to be built for the youths.
The event was sponsored by Academic Salons, the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, the Institute for Human Development, the School of Theology and Ministry, and the Center for Service and Community Engagement.