Random Nun Clips

A decade later, a miraculous reunion

Podcast Recorded: July 15, 2022
Vietnamese refugees in a boat

Leaving Vietnam in small batches, Sr. Trish Doan’s family traveled to the United States over the course of a decade – and at long last, every member of the family was reunited in their adoptive home.

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Show Notes

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Transcript (Click for More)+

Sister Rejane  
This Random Nun Clip is brought to you by A Nun's Life Ministry. I'm Sister Rejane of A Nun's Life Ministry. Our guest today is Sister Trish Doan, a Sister of St. Joseph of Orange, who currently lives in Los Angeles, California, and is working on her master's degree in theology. Her life began in Vietnam during a time of war, upheaval and unrest. Sister Trish left Vietnam at the approximate age of 12. She went to school and over the years had several different work experiences in engineering, in her family's restaurant, and in US immigration services.  So this is in 85. Your two older sisters and your brother and yourself are in the States. But there are both your parents and four more children, correct, that are still in Vietnam and how did that unfold for them to come to California?

Sister Trish  
They escaped in the same manner, which is by boat. We have such a large family, which is 10 of us. My mom tried before to have all of us escape at once but it's so difficult, and other people have been arrested also. So now both my mom and my dad had to make a fateful decision to divide us up. So they came up with going by pairs. So the oldest went first. So my two older sisters went first. And then my older brother, my older sister--the one next to me--she said, "No, I'm gonna stay with you." So I'm a braver sister than my older one. So my mom said, "You can go with your brother if you want." And I said, yeah, I would go. So my father and my older sister and my younger brother escaped the same way.

Sister Rejane  
So they were the third round.

Sister Trish  
The third round. The fourth round, my mom and my two youngest sisters--my mom was captured and put into a prison because she couldn't make it. They came and they took my mom and put her in jail or in prison.

Sister Rejane  
In Vietnam, right?

Sister Trish  
In Vietnam. Because she didn't make it. They asked her, "You're a traitor. Why do you want to go to the States? Because they are our enemies." My mom said, "I don't know about enemies or what. I want to go and be united with my husband and my children. That's my reason. There's no other reason." So my dad had to send money back to Vietnam so that they could bribe the official, which they did. And then they let my mom out. And then a year later, my mom tried to escape again with my two younger sisters, and then she made it to Hong Kong. So all of us went the route of Hong Kong. A lot of people did the other route, because it's less dangerous. But my parents didn't want us to take that route, which is Thailand, to Malaysia, to Indonesia, to Philippines, because there's a chance of us being raped by Thai pirates. There's a lot of people that that happened to. So my mom finally got to Hong Kong in 1991.

Sister Rejane  
And when did she arrive in the United States with your two younger sisters?

Sister Trish  
I believe in 1992.

Sister Rejane  
Okay, so the 10 of you were finally reunited.

Sister Trish  
After 10 years, yeah. So all of us made it. We were very, very, very fortunate because all of us made it four separate times. My neighbor--there's only three people left. And the rest of the family died at sea. Because two of them stayed back and one of them left before. And her two brothers and sister and niece and nephew left in between and then they just went missing, vanished. And when we didn't receive news, we knew that they did not make it. So there's a lot of people died from 1975 to 1998.

Sister Rejane  
Wow. So there's a lot of grief and loss, grief and loss. And danger.

To hear full episodes of A Nun's Life podcasts, visit the podcast page at anunslife.org/podcasts.

This transcript has been lightly edited for readability.


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