Popular priest, Fr. Than Vu, passes away after battle with cancer

Popular priest, Fr. Than Vu, passes away after battle with cancer
Source: St. Aloysius Catholic Church
Source: St. Aloysius Catholic Church

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Catholics are mourning the death of a priest who also held the position of vicar general of the Diocese of Baton Rouge.

Father Than Vu, pastor of St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Baton Rouge, passed away early Wednesday morning. According to The Catholic Commentator newspaper website for the diocese, Vu had been battling cancer. He was 56 years old.The site added Vu was widely loved for his inspiring homilies, a keen sense of humor and a deep spirituality.

Father Bob Stine, who took over at LSU's Christ the King when Fr. Vu went to St. Aloysius, remembered Vu as a very spiritual man who was dedicated to Jesus and the priesthood.

"He was known for his photographic memory. He could read a gospel passage once and then get up  in the pulpit and go from memory and not miss a word," Stine said.

Jenny Moore was the bookkeeper at Christ the King, in 1989, when Vu was assigned as the associate pastor. She remembers a phone call one night from Vu, asking her to help him learn Spanish.

"The pastor here at the time asked him, 'How is your Spanish?' And he said I know Vietnamese, English, French, Italian but not Spanish ... Well you need to start practicing, you have Spanish mass tomorrow," Moore said, adding she considered Father Vu a friend as well. "I know we will meet again."

Bishop Robert Muench issued a statement about Vu's death.

"With deepest human sorrow, and with full faith in the risen Jesus Christ, I notify you that our beloved Father Than N. Vu, Vicar General of the Diocese of Baton Rouge and pastor of St. Aloysius Church, Baton Rouge, entered eternal life peacefully this morning at 2:04 a.m.," Muench wrote. "Please remember him, his family, brother priests, parishioners and friends in prayer. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord. May he rest in peace. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen."

A vigil service will be held at Christ the King Church (Highland Road at Dalrymple Drive) at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Visitation will follow. It will continue Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at St. Aloysius Catholic Church. The funeral Mass will start at 11 a.m. and will be presided by Muench. Interment will be at Roselawn Memorial Park.

According to the website, Vu was born in Vietnam in 1958, only weeks after his father died. It also stated that in an interview on his 25th anniversary in 2009, Vu said he decided to enter the seminary "because it sounded like fun," after visiting with a cousin who was on summer break from his studies at a seminary in Vietnam. It was a career he tried to shy away from as a little boy. In the article, Vu said family members reminded him he once said he wanted to be a trash collector. When a priest asked him if he wanted to get involved in the ministry, Vu told him he wasn't interested. He said he even started going to another church, so he wouldn't have to see that priest. It was after that, as a Cub Scout he won a contest - the prize, a book titled, "I Want to Be a Priest."

The site went on to add that once in the seminary, Vu said, "While I still had fun, all of the sudden I had fallen in love with the spiritual life of the seminary."

The website reported after only a year in the seminary, the Communists from the north invaded South Vietnam and Vu recalled that his family found themselves on a ship en route to the United States. Because his family was one of 10 that was sponsored by the Baton Rouge diocese, he came here to live.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Diocese of Baton Rouge.

Bishop Muench issued this second statement Wednesday afternoon:

Statement of Bishop Robert W. Muench On the Remembrance of Fr. Than Vu

Father Than Vu was a priest who believed in God, in the church and in eternal life. He had extraordinary personal, pastoral, spiritual and administrative talents.

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