Fr. Joseph Truong Ky, PSS
March 6, 1929–December 30, 2018
Fr. Joseph Ky’s presence among us was a living testimony of our heeding the word of God, when we read, “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)
Fr. Ky came to us at a time of crisis in Vietnam with the fall of Saigon, and at a time of the growing number of Vietnamese refugees seeking pastoral care and leadership. In the seminary, we needed a Vietnamese priest on the faculty to serve the community with its growing number of Vietnamese seminarians. Fr. Ky responded to all with his wisdom and grace.
Joseph Truong Ky was born March 6, 1929, in the HaNam Province, Vietnam. He is one of four children of Truong Giap and Nguyen La. He had two sisters, Truong Tri Cuc and Truong Hue, and a brother, Truong Duc Long.
Fr. Ky was educated in the minor seminary of Hanoi from 1945 to 1950 and then at the Sulpician Seminaries in Hanoi, Vinh Long, and Saigon from 1951 to 1958. He was ordained on June 6, 1959 for the Diocese of Cantho, Vietnam. He immediately began teaching at the Cantho Seminary in South Vietnam (1960-1966). He joined the Sulpicians for the Province of France in 1967 and began teaching at St. Sulpice Seminary of Vinh Long, South Vietnam (1967-1968). He then went off to graduate studies at the Institut Catholique de Paris in comparative religion and earned his M.A. in 1971 and then another M.A. in sociology at the Université de Paris in 1972. During this time, he also earned a diploma in Chinese Mandarin at the École Nationale des Langues Orientales (1970-1972). In 1972 he returned to Vietnam to teach at the St. Sulpice Seminary of Danang (1972-1975).
Fr. Ky was admitted as a definitive member of the Society for the Province of France in 1970.
After the fall of Saigon in 1975, Fr. Ky came to Honolulu as a refugee. He was immediately assigned by the Bishop of Honolulu to be the chaplain for the Vietnamese refugees. In that role, he helped to establish the Vietnamese Catholic Community in Hawaii. He served as associate pastor at Sacred Heart Church from 1975 to 1980 and then at the Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus from 1980 to 1982. He was incardinated into the Diocese of Honolulu on May 8, 1979.
With the agreements of the Province of France and of the US, and with the approval of the Bishop of Honolulu, Fr. Ky was assigned to St. Joseph’s College, Mountain View, California. There he served as the ethnic advisor to the seminary community and to the Vietnamese refugees. In the seminary, he was the wisdom figure highly esteemed not only by the Vietnamese students but by all. He was instrumental in introducing the community to Vietnamese customs and celebrations. Fr. Ky will be especially remembered for coordinating the Tet celebration each year which brought in Vietnamese families and friends from the community to celebrate with traditional food, music, and dance. In the academic program, he taught philosophy, comparative religion, and Vietnamese literature until the college closed in 1992.
Upon the closure of the college, Fr. Ky requested early retirement due to illnesses caused by his diabetes. He retired to the Vietnamese retirement community of the Congregation of the Mother of the Redeemer in Carthage, Missouri (a monastery better known by its former name prior to 2017, The Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix). Though retired, he continued to work for the Vietnamese community as a spiritual adviser and through his publications: several books, a Chinese-English lexicon, and articles in the monthly magazine, Forum of the People of God (Dien Dan Giao Dan). Fr. Ky was officially transferred from the Province of France to the Province of the U.S. on November 15, 2014.
On December 30, 2018, Fr. Ky died at Mercy McCune Brooks Hospital in Carthage, Missouri. The Mass of Resurrection was celebrated on January 4, 2019, with Fr. John Thanh Toan Tran, CRM, Provincial Superior of the monastery of the Congregation of the Mother of the Redeemer, as presider, and Fr. Hy Nguyen, PSS, as homilist. Burial followed in Park Cemetery, Carthage, the cemetery of the monastery of the Congregation of the Mother of the Redeemer.
Fr. Richard M. Gula, PSS
Director of Personnel