From the Pastor: The Life and Times of Fr. Chien Dinh
This current weekend we say “goodbye” to Fr. Peter and welcome Fr. Chien. Here I will be writing a sort of biography about Fr. Chien as a means of introducing him to you but I have only met him once, very briefly, so I don’t know enough about him to fill this space. That, for many people, would be a conundrum but fortunately for me I can usually manage to “fill in the gaps” with great information I find online (so you know it has to be true) and other magical places which are just brimming with filler material of the fantastical sort. So, without further ado, let's dig into the life of Fr. Chien Xuan Dinh, SVD.
When I did a google search for “Fr. Chien” all of the pages were in a foreign language. That was not unexpected, for Fr. Chien will be in charge of St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission. What was weird though, was that none of the results were in Vietnamese. They were all in French. Fortunately, being quite fluent in French, I am able to tell you authoritatively that Chien is a French dog. Or a dog in France. Or the word for dog in the French language. (Translations can be tricky, so cut me some slack.) The computer evidently thought that “Chien.Fr” is the same as “Fr. Chien” but I could see little connection between two. Perhaps there is a Mr. Peabody & Sherman thing going on. Fr. Peabody and Sherman? Mr. Peabody and Fr. Sherman? No, I just don’t remember that old show having a priest in it. So back to the drawing board.
This time I searched for “Fr. Chien Dinh” and, lo and behold, I hit the jackpot. “Profils Chien Van Dinh” came up as a Facebook hit. But notice that there is no “e” between the “l” and “s” of “Profils.” It was pointing to the French version of Facebook! I can only guess that it went there based on my just researched French dog pages. Clicking on that link led to quite a few people with the name “Chien Dinh.” Some were male, some were female. Some were obviously Buddhist. There was a swimmer and a soldier and a motorcycle rider among the many “Profil” photos, but not a one was a priest. So back to the search page results I went.
There were three very brightly colored images for videos labeled something in Vietnamese (instead of French!) which was, of course, unreadable to me as this is probably the one language in the world which I have not yet mastered. Interestingly, each of the three videos showed the exact same length, 24 minutes and 10 seconds. “Strange,” thought I, so I clicked, thinking, “Maybe these are videos of Fr. Chien’s daily Mass and he is very precise in his celebration.” Nope. They were Japanese anime cartoons dubbed into Vietnamese. That explains the exact length. TV shows have to be exact in order to get the commercials all in properly, even if it means that the story is poorer for it (kind of like a certain pastor’s bulletin article, if you stop and think about it). At least it brought back good memories from when I was a kid watching Godzilla movies dubbed into English and none of the words matched the way the mouths moved. (I wonder if Father gives homilies in that fashion? I would attend an extra Mass and even sit up front just so that I could see that!) I didn’t watch long enough to see if Fr. Chien was one of the characters or if he was just in the credits at the end. Perhaps we will find out one day.
But what’s that next link? “Lafayette diocese announces appointments, changes.” That sounds like a winner. Sure enough, here is something I was searching for. “Rev. Chien Dinh, SVD, will be departing from the Diocese of Lafayette for an assignment elsewhere.” What? That’s it? He’s “departing...for an assignment elsewhere?” No mention of St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission? No mention of the Diocese of St. Petersburg? What a “nice” farewell. Fortunately, that same line was repeated for another priest who was leaving, too, or else I would have concluded that the bishop was saying something like, “Don’t let the door hit you in the rear on your way out.”
But that still didn’t give me any information about Fr. Chien. So I will just have to make something up. Fr. Chien was born in Vietnam but left as a young man when he was drafted by the New York Knicks. Because Google searches were just a little less helpful then than now, the team’s GM thought that young Chien was a motorcycle riding Buddhist French dog trainer who starred in anime cartoons and, on a double-dog dare from the Celtics’ manager, wasted a draft pick on the off-chance that he knew how to play basketball. I would tell you more about his illustrious pre-priest career, but this article has reached its exact word limit and I will have to end it right here so that we can fit in the advertisements. Oh, wait. I miscounted. It has to end right here at the end of this sentence. Unless the average word size is shorter than normal, in which case there is still room for me to write a little bit mor
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka