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Father ​Father Vincent Bui, PSS, dies after battle with COVID-19

July 10, 2020 | posted by Archdiocese of San Antonio

Topics: Vocations

Father Father Vincent Bui, PSS, dies after battle with COVID-19

Father Vincent Bui, PSS, who served at Assumption Seminary on the Council of Formators and as a seminarian advisor and liturgy director, died June 9 of COVID-19. He was 58 years old.

Vincent Bui was born on June 25, 1961 in Bien Hoa, North Vietnam, to Trinh Q. and Yen T. (Duong) Bui. He is the sixth of eight children and is survived by two brothers (one also a priest) and four sisters (one a Dominican Sister).

Upon graduating from high school in 1979, he attempted to escape from Vietnam but was captured in his 13 attempts. His brother arranged another attempt and was successful on this fourteenth try. He escaped Vietnam on Easter Sunday in 1981, an experience which gave the mystery of Easter an ever deeper meaning of suffering, freedom, and new life. After spending about eight months in refugee camps in Thailand and Bangkok, he arrived in the United States on Feb. 4, 1982.

After getting settled at his father’s cousin’s house in Illinois in 1982, Vincent Bui spent two years studying English at Divine Word College in Iowa and then moved to Quincy, Ill., to join the Franciscans. He remained with them for one year. For the next four years he lived in Champaign-Urbana, Ill., while he worked as a bilingual social worker with refugees through the East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance Center. In addition to working with refugees, he also worked in a variety of other positions for the local community and the local church. In 1989 he took a position with the Resettlement Program of the Catholic Social Service of the Diocese of Peoria, Ill. Out of this work, he gave himself another chance at official ministry by applying to the Diocese of Lansing, Mich., in 1990. He began his theological studies and formation at St Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore in 1990 under the auspices of the Diocese of Lansing.

Vincent Bui was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Lansing on June 10, 1995. He spent two years as an associate pastor at St. Robert Bellarmine in Flushing, Mich.,from 1995-1997. It was during that time that Father Bui felt drawn to the Society of St. Sulpice, also known as the Sulpicians, a society of apostolic life which consists of diocesan priests who educated, guide and support fellow priests.

Father Bui’s trajectory with the Sulpicians began in an unusual way for his time in that his candidacy years of formation were at the Emmaus Spirituality Centre (Lusaka, Zambia), a mission seminary providing a propaedeutic program for young men interested in going to the major seminary. While in Africa he contracted malaria, a disease which had negative ramifications for his health from then on. After his two years of candidacy in Zambia, he returned to the states and was admitted as a definitive member of the Society in 2000. He then spent a year at The Catholic University of America completing the licentiate degree in Canon Law in 2001.

After completing the JCL, he was assigned to the faculty of St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, Calif., from 2001-2006. From there, he went off to further studies in Canon Law at St. Paul University, Ottawa, Canada. He returned to St. Patrick’s Seminary in 2009 and remained there until the Sulpicians withdrew from St. Patrick’s in 2017. After a sabbatical year, Father Bui moved to Assumption Seminary in 2018. He also assisted at archdiocesan parishes as well.

When the coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of the seminary in late March, Father Bui went to live with his cousin, Ngoc Do, in San Jose, Calif. Unfortunately, everyone in her family contracted the virus in late April. Father Bui already brought with him a compromised immune system from his past illnesses and so was an easy victim to the virus. He had to be hospitalized on May 13 in the San Jose Regional Medical Center due to complications from the virus. After nearly a month in the ICU and on a ventilator, Father Bui died on June 9, 2020, one day shy of his 25th anniversary of ordination.

The family has asked that Father Bui be cremated and that the cremains be returned to Vietnam so that he can be buried in the family plot. A memorial service was held in the Diocese of San Jose. Bishop Earl Boyea offered Mass for Father Bui at St. Mary Cathedral in Lansing on June 16. A memorial Mass will be held at Our Lady’s Chapel at Assumption Seminary very soon.