Brother Hieu PhamNew Clairvaux Abbey

I am Brother Francis Hieu Pham in Vina, California. I was born and grew up in a large family in central Vietnam, the fourth of seven children.

I believe God had a big influence on my call as a monk. When I was five, I went to live with my grandmother, who helped the parish priest at his house. I also helped her and the pastor.

At the time I had no idea what a vocation was — or a monk or even a seminarian. It was then I learned a little bit about discipline, life, and ministry to the Church under the care of a pastor.

After two years I went back home to live with my parents until I finished High School. In my senior year, my pastor encouraged me to live a religious life as a monk or seminarian.

After I graduated, I decided to join one of the Cistercian communities of the Common Observance, but I realized that I did not really feel called to it. So I went back home to help my parents.

In 1999, I went to study music in the Catholic Music School of Saigon for a year. Midyear 2000, I went back to my hometown and served my parish for two years.

In August 2002, I entered the Common Observance community at Chau son Abbey in Vietnam. That time I felt God was calling me because I felt happy and at peace living there.

After living in Chau son Abbey for two years as a postulant, our Abbot Dom Francis asked me if I was interested in going to New Clairvaux Abbey, a Trappist Monastery in the United States. I had six months to pray and discern God’s will for me. After deciding it was the right thing to do, I sensed a growing conviction and I decided to go.

I came to the United States on February 20, 2005 and have been living at New Clairvaux Abbey for six years now.

Many people, including friends and relatives, have asked me why I chose to live the contemplative life. They have told me that I would probably prefer living as an active religious rather than the contemplative life.

Fortunately my family has respected my choice and supported my decision. I know they miss me especially during family gatherings and major celebrations.

In my culture, there is a tradition that when there is a big event, such as the Lunar New Year, every family member comes back home and gathers together, even when they live far away.

So here I am at New Clairvaux. Even though I have had many struggles and difficulties with language, culture, and so on… more and more I find peace and joy in my commitment to God and to my brothers at the community of Vina. With God’s help, I hope to be faithful to my vocation.

Contact a Vocation Director to learn more about the Trappists or pursue your vocation.