In God’s hands
HE IS: Father Jim Ngo Hoang Khoi, CRM, Pastor of Immaculate Conception of Mary Parish in Wichita Falls. He has also served at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Fort Worth.
EARLY YEARS: Born to a traditional Catholic family in North Vietnam, he fled in 1954 to South Vietnam with his parents and four siblings to escape communism.
AN ORDERED LIFE: He joined the Congregation of the Mother of the Redeemer at age 13 and took vows as a religious brother several years later.
He said, “The community formed us; we have been in that routine. I thank God for that. When you enter the community of religious life when you are young, you get a lot of experiences and formation, education.”
A NEW HOME: About 170 members of his religious order, or roughly half, fled Vietnam aboard fishing vessels on April 30, 1975, as Saigon fell to the communists. Rescued by U.S. Navy ships, the congregation lived in refugee camps before eventually being reunited in Carthage, Missouri.
Looking back, Fr. Khoi reflected, “The collapse of South Vietnam is a chance God used to spread our congregation.”
BROTHERLY LOVE: As a brother, he enjoyed helping priests with parish activities, primarily working with youth and the choir.
However, he felt a desire to be able to celebrate the sacraments. Although he would listen and advise people, he couldn’t offer Reconciliation. Also, he would organize retreats, but he had to arrange for a priest to celebrate Mass.
When his superior suggested he become a priest, he agreed. “It’s two ways: the community called me, and I responded to God’s call. I think that’s in God’s will.”
ORDAINED: June 9, 1991.
“I’m very pleased, very happy to be a priest because when I work with the parishes and movements, I can help with the sacraments. Definitely a more meaningful ministry.”
KEEP ON TRACK: Fr. Khoi credits “God’s help” with remaining faithful for his decades of ministry. “He did it. Every day I pray for my life; I pray for my faithfulness; I pray for the devotion I need to have.”
MUSIC MAN: Fr. Khoi joined his parish choir at 11, and he majored in music at Missouri State University. He plays “not perfectly” the saxophone, flute, piano, and organ, and he sings and conducts music.
TWO HOMES, TWO FEET: Having lived 27 years in Vietnam, Fr. Khoi knows the culture and speaks Vietnamese fluently. But 48 years working and studying in the U.S. have enabled him to relate to American parishes.
“I have two feet: one in Vietnam; one in U.S.A. So I thank God for that benefit,” he said.
FUTURE PLANS: “I have no plan for myself. I was sent out; I will be called in. That depends on the congregation. I don’t request anything; I don’t deny anything — so that is a very peaceful day. You don’t worry about what you are going to do.
“God will plan for me. Everything is in His hands. We are entrusted to Him. If we worry about how to plan for ourselves, we will get stuck.
“We try to follow His plan and pray that His plan can be done.”
LAST WORD: “I put myself as an instrument that God can use. The instrument needs to connect to the source. I put myself in the middle. I try to connect to God as much as I can through the formation I got from my community.”