Days after his parish Our Lady of Lavang was attacked, Fr. Ansgar Pham gathered with the local Vietnamese community Dec. 27 to celebrate his 15th anniversary as a priest. (Courtesy Phoung Pham)
Days after his parish Our Lady of Lavang was attacked, Fr. Ansgar Pham gathered with the local Vietnamese community Dec. 27 to celebrate his 15th anniversary as a priest. (Courtesy Phoung Pham)

On Dec. 27, three days after the Christmas Eve tragedy at Our Lady of Lavang Parish in Northeast Portland, parishioners joined together to celebrate Pastor Ansgar Pham’s 15 year jubilee. The pastor was ordained Dec. 27, 2003, in Taichung, Taiwan.



On Christmas Eve, a disturbed man drove into the empty church and destroyed pews, doors and walls. No one was injured and parishioners quickly readied the church for Christmas celebrations.



Emotions from the Christmas tragedy at the parish were still raw Dec. 27, but parishioners claim that with the arrival of and the timing of Father Pham’s jubilee, everyone’s spirits were lifted and their faith strengthened.



“I was very happy on my ordination day. Today, I am even happier on my 15th jubilee anniversary,” said Father Pham.  “God doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called because he is good and because he loves us. It was clearly a grace from God that I am chosen to be a priest.”



Priests, religious sisters, families, friends, parishioners filled the church for the anniversary Mass. After the Mass, the celebration continued with music, well-wishers, food and laughter. 



“Being a priest is about falling in love with the God who loves me, and feeling that love so deeply that I want to spend my life bringing it to others in the most simple but ordinary profound ways through the sacraments,” said Father Pham.

Father Pham credited Our Lady of Lavang and his family for his faith and nurturing his vocation to the priesthood.



“It is such a privilege to return home and remain as their pastor,” he said.

Father Pham came to Our Lady of Lavang in August 2016 as pastor. His hopes for the parish are to encourage and promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life; for all laity, especially the young people, to grow deeper in their faith with a fervent desire to learn more about the catechism of the Catholic Church; and lastly, to ease tension and problems caused by the lack of parking spaces around the church. 

Sarah Wolf contributed to this story.