Sister Tram Bui, OP

Sister Tram Bui

The Beatles tune, “Long and Winding Road” might start playing in your head as you learn about 44-year-old Sr. Tram Bui, OP. She’s originally from Vietnam but now a naturalized US citizen, and in formation with the Dominican Sisters of Peace, a pontifical congregation of vowed Catholic religious women. Sr. Tram currently lives in Columbus, Ohio, where she ministers as a physical therapist. Sr. Tram made First Vows as a Dominican Sister of Peace August 6, 2023. However, it wasn’t exactly a straight road from there to here – and as a side note: this was the second time that she professed First Vows - (the winding road reference).

To trace her path, we will have to start at the beginning. Tram’s first connection with Catholicism began during her childhood in a peaceful Vietnamese village that was 99% Catholic. She walked to Mass each day, assisted with cleaning the church, and decorated the altar with flowers. She “hung around” the church a lot growing up…and was curious about it. Tram says it helped her get closer to God, the church and provided a good foundation in her life. It also helped her learn to care for others and “just be a good person.”

As life continued, she became part of the group known as “the boat people,” refugees who fled Vietnam by boat following the end of the Vietnam War. Tram Bui’s boat took her to Galang, one of Indonesia’s islands. She lived there for three years where she continued to be influenced by Eucharistic Youth and Liturgical Dance groups. She says, “These groups encouraged me to participate in Mass and prayers, receive the Body of Christ, focus on teamwork and how to help each other. Additionally, it helped me figure problem solving and ways to develop relationships with God and my neighbors.”

Little by little (since 1997) Tram and the rest of her family all took another kind of “leap of faith” and immigrated to America to find a new way of life. Tram received her high school equivalency diploma (GED) and went through one semester of college in Daytona Beach, Florida.

In 1999, she came to a fork in the road and moved to a house of religious discernment in Boston. The fork then led her to St. Louis and then Kentucky where she was first introduced to the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catharine, Kentucky (now the Dominican Sisters of Peace). After a total of five years, she took her First Vows for the first time at age 24.
However, in 2005, she ended her discernment with the Kentucky sisters when higher learning beckoned her. She received her Doctorate in physical therapy at Texas Tech. It was a time to focus on education as well as an additional opportunity for discernment.

After graduation, her path led her out of the country again…this time to Kingston, Jamaica with Sr. Mary Vuong, OP whom she knew from her encounter with the Dominican Sisters of Peace in Kentucky along with Sr. Gene Poore, OP. Here, along with Sr. Mary, she used her physical therapy skills to help caregivers learn how to care for those in the orphanage and developed a special mobility program at Mustard Seed Communities, a Jamaican organization that provides homes, nutrition, and education for vulnerable children, many of whom have physical or emotional disabilities. At Mustard Seed, Sr. Tram’s caring spirit surfaced again, “I loved volunteering, helping the poor and caring for children, it was one of the most fulfilling times of my life.” 

Sister Mary and Sister Tram
Sr. Mary, serving in the ministry of occupational therapy in Jamaica says this of Tram, “I saw her as very compassionate while in Jamaica and I have witnessed Tram grow with her discernment process, intently focusing on how God is leading and calling her. She is very much a faith-filled woman.”

The Dominican Sisters of Peace Vocation leaders eventually influenced Tram to take another turn in the road which led her to travel to several “Come and See” retreats. These retreats with the Dominican Sisters of Peace invite young women to live with the Sisters for three days to allow them to get a taste of life as a religious Sister.

And it was the 2019 “Come and See” in Akron, Ohio that led her back to the Dominican Sisters of Peace, where she eventually took her First Vows for a second time in 2023.

Sr. Tram says, “Now, it feels more like home. I am living the charism, openly learning from the Sisters who are living out their lives as Dominican Sisters of Peace. It has allowed me to increasingly open my heart as I live each day.”

Sr. Pat Dual, Coordinator of Formation at the Dominican Sisters of Peace says, “The Come and See events are invaluable to those who are considering a religious vocation. For Sr. Tram and others, they provide insight into our community and the discernment process. We have also been able to see that Sr. Tram is a people-person, very gentle, approachable, and peaceful. We have witnessed the development and growth of her relationship with God as well as those she ministers to. We are called to serve, and Sr. Tram is serving others beautifully.”

“The First Vows I made last year felt more like a renewal. The decision is right, I am happy, and I believe that God has led me on this journey, along with my family, friends and all who have been with me. I am grateful to each individual,” adds Sr. Tram.

And at this junction, Sr. Tram has found that all she really needed to do was take her first steps on a tiny Vietnamese road and trust what lies ahead. Because for Sr. Tram Bui, OP, the roads she chose ultimately took her back to God’s Door. 

About the Dominican Sisters of Peace
Dominican Sisters of Peace, members of the Order of Preachers, are vowed Catholic women who preach the Gospel of Christ through lives of service and peace-making. The Dominican Sisters of Peace are present in 22 states and Nigeria. The Sisters serve God’s people in many ways, including education, health care, spirituality, pastoral care, prison ministry, the arts, and care of creation. There are more than 300 Sisters and more than 600 lay women and men associated with the congregation.

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