Humble beginnings inspires priest’s generosity
Group Photo outside the village home of Fr Francis Ly in My Tho. Photo: George Favacho.
By Matthew Lau
In a quest to help the poor and needy of Vietnam, Maida Vale Parish Priest Fr Francis Ly has led an entourage of parishioners to his homeland.
Fr Ly and 21 members of Maida Vale Parish went on a pilgrimage that covered Hanoi, Han Long Bay, Sapa, Hue, Danang, Hoi An, and Ho Chi Minh City across two weeks in January.
Along their journey, the group handed out gifts of books, chocolates and clothes to children at orphanages and hospitals.
Speaking with The Record about his journey, Fr Ly explained that Vietnam had changed significantly since he left 23 years ago to embark on his priesthood journey.
Seeing how much his homeland has developed over the years made Fr Ly emotional.
“I couldn’t recognise where I came from; I cried,” he said.
Fr Francis Ly celebrating mass at his home parish in My Tho. Photo: George Favacho.
Fr Ly organised a visit to Truong Vuong Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City for the parishioners to witness cataract surgery, sponsored by donations from St Francis of Assisi Church.
“We wanted [the patients] to see the wonderful world God created.”
The travelling group visited several churches and cathedrals, including The Sacred Heart Cathedral, St Joseph’s Cathedral, The Sapa Rock Church, La Vang Holy Land & Shrine, Phu Cam Notre Dame, and the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception.
They went to Hoa Hong Disability Education School, where Fr Ly has raised donations and contributions towards the building and maintenance funds over many years.
Fr Ly began his mission to help poor people 20 years ago.
“I came from a very poor family myself. I focus on the poor because I realised they are in my heart,” he said.
The highlight of his trip to Vietnam was seeing his people “united by heart”.
“I am pleased to see my people recognise what God has given us.”
Parishioner George Favacho contacted Fr Ly when he heard about the planned mission to Vietnam.
The former Maida Vale Parish Chairperson became tour director of the group; he extended the proposition to join the expedition to his fellow parishioners and those of Father Ly’s former parish in Lockridge.
“I don’t think many parish priests have had the privilege of bringing their parishioners to their homeland to see their house,” Mr Favacho said.
One of the highlights for the tour was the special visit to Fr Ly’s boyhood home in My Tho.
The Ly family members warmly welcomed the visitors and laid out a special Vietnamese home-style lunch to mark Fr Ly’s 68th birthday.