Houston native makes final vows in Great Bend as Dominican Sister
GREAT BEND – Sister Mary Vuong, OP, made her Perpetual Profession of Vows May 26 as a Dominican Sister of Peace at the Great Bend Motherhouse. Sister Mary’s friend Father Anthony Nguyen, a diocesan priest from Jackson, Mississippi, presided at the Mass.
Attending her profession were her parents, Thu Vuong and Moi Vu, her sister Jamie, brother-in-law Darren, and their children Jerie, Devin, and Hailey, all having traveled from her hometown of Houston. Also there to celebrate were friends, family, and Dominican Sisters from throughout the United States. The event was the culmination of a long journey for Sister Mary – a journey, she proclaims with a smile, that all began with a bet.
She met Dominican Sister Mary Otho Ballard at the Marian Days festival in Carthage, Missouri, and later received a letter from her.
Mary (Vuong’s) father said that if she wrote back to Sister Mary Otho, he would quit smoking. Always hoping her father would quit, Mary decided she would indeed reply. Eventually her father did quit smoking, but the gamble was worth it for so many other reasons. Continuing her correspondence with Sister Mary Otho, Mary learned more and more about the Dominican Sisters and felt drawn to the joyful life of service and community she saw in them.
Eventually, Mary moved to the Boston area to learn more about religious life, living in community at a house of discernment and ministering at a local parish. She made her First Profession of Vows in 2003, which she renewed in 2010, and last fall requested permission to make her Perpetual Profession, sometimes called “Final Vows.”
Sister Mary professed her vows surrounded by her Sisters at the Great Bend Motherhouse, where she has lived since 2010. Having lived and served in Massachusetts, Missouri, and Kentucky previously, Sister Mary said, “I really appreciate the gift of living in community, and I have come to really love my Sisters here in Kansas.”
Since moving to Kansas, Sister Mary has served as an occupational therapist at the Central Kansas Medical Center/St. Rose Ambulatory and Surgery Center across the street from the Motherhouse. While not the typical teaching or nursing profession many of her older Sisters were in at her age, Sister Mary shares that she indeed sees her work as ministry.
“I try to always remember God in the healing process,” she explains. “The body is so complicated, and all the technology we have helps, but ultimately God is the one who heals.”
She further shares, “When I am working with my patients or manipulating their bodies, I always ground myself in the Holy Spirit… and even when I go home, I pray for my patients always.”
Sister Mary says that she loves being part of the worldwide Dominican Order, and particularly part of the newly formed Dominican Sisters of Peace. She loves the opportunities she’s had in religious life, especially the chance to meet so many people from around the globe working to share the Gospel of Christ with others, which is the “charism” or special mission of the Dominican Order.
“No matter where you go, you are never a stranger – we have Dominican family all over the world,” she explains. She says that she really values that the Dominican Sisters of Peace are always “on the cutting edge, going out of their way to serve the poor and marginalized.” She says, “They truly try to live out what St. Catharine of Siena urges us to do to ‘speak as if you had a million voices, [for] it is silence that kills the world.’”
For now, she enjoys her ministry and the community that surrounds her, and is filled with gratitude for so much in making her Perpetual Vows. While she can never be sure what the future will bring, she has confidence that God will continue to lead her on the journey. “Before I entered religious life, I never thought I’d do any of the things I’ve done, or lived any of the places I’ve lived. I’m excited for whatever the future holds!”