January 31, 2012

KATY — Father John Kha Tran said his desire to join the priesthood came at a very young age.

"This desire never left me," said Father Tran, now a priest of 23 years. "It continues to become stronger and stronger every day."

Born in Vietnam, he migrated to the U.S. in 1975. In 1989, he was ordained a priest at St. Michael Church in Houston, where he was originally assigned as parochial vicar and then later served at St. Justin Martyr Church. In 1995, Father Tran stepped away from parochial life and became a member the formation faculty at St. Mary Seminary in Houston. He rejoined parish ministry at St. John Vianney in 2001 and soon after that 
Father Tran was assigned as the parish administrator at St. Charles Borromeo Church. In 2002, Father Tran was assigned as pastor to St. Bartholomew the Apostle Church in Katy, where he currently serves.

Father Tran discussed his life as a priest with the Texas Catholic Herald in a recent interview.

Texas Catholic Herald: When did you originally consider becoming a priest? Was there a precise moment when you actually heard "the call" or was it a gradual process for you?
Father John Kha Tran: As I mentioned, the desire to become a priest has always been with me since I was at a very young age. Looking back, I am grateful that God has called me to be a priest for his people. If I could choose again, definitely I would choose to be a priest again! It is my investment in life.

TCH: Did you have a role model in the priesthood growing up or in the seminary? 
Father Tran: 
I do not have any particular role models. I learned some from every priest I have met or worked with along the way. I do admire the pastor of my parents' parish where I grew up. My real inspiration is Jesus Christ and St. Paul and St. Peter.

TCH: Do you have advice for anyone considering the priesthood or currently in the seminary?
Father Tran:
 My advice for the seminarians is to learn as much as they can, [in] theology as well as pastoral skills; to know the Lord and have an intimate relationship with He who calls them; and to be a servant.

TCH: Do you have any time to pursue hobbies? If so, do you have a favorite?
Father Tran: 
My hobby is gardening. My parents were farmers. My mom was a good gardener. So when I became pastor at St. Bartholomew in Katy, I cultivated a nice garden in the backyard. That is where I spend my days off, working in the garden to relax. I also enjoy some exercise every day to keep me healthy.

TCH: What has being part of a parish community as pastor meant to you?
Father Tran: 
I have enjoyed being pastor at St. Bartholomew Church for the past nine years. I have grown spiritually deeper in love with God as well as with the people of the parish. My dream of becoming a parish priest has come true. I love the parish life where I can walk along on life's journey with the people. I truly believe this is the way for me to experience God's presence and God's love for me as well as for the people under my care. I share the joy as well as the saddest moments of life with them. I celebrate their success and I struggle with their struggles. Together we seek holiness on the way to our heavenly home. I have been there for the people and they have been there for me. I want to hear Jesus tell me at the end of the road, "well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21).

TCH: Would there be anything else you would like to add about being a priest or pastor in the Archdiocese?
Father Tran:
 I love being a priest in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. The Archdiocese welcomed me to [St. Mary] Seminary in 1985 with open arms. And I never regret that I had applied to study and to serve the Church of Galveston-Houston. †