Many Twists and Turns Took Fr. Quan Tran to the Priesthood

By Cathi Douglas     6/10/2019

Father Quan Tran took a crisscross journey to spirituality and has a “really surprising” calling to the priesthood. Looking back, he marvels at the direction his life has taken.  

Fr. Tran starts his new position as new parochial vicar at St. Bonaventure Parish in Huntington Beach on July 1. He will continue in his work as secretary to the Pastoral Provision Office, which is part of Blessed Pope John Paul II’s 1980 effort to bring Anglican and Episcopal clergy into the Catholic priesthood.  

Previously he served as parochial vicar at Christ Cathedral Parish and episcopal vicar of ecumenical and interreligious affairs for the Diocese of Orange.  

Growing up in a “lukewarm Catholic family,” Fr. Tran dutifully carried out his parents’ wishes that he pursue financial success. He studied law at Pepperdine University and then served for 10 years as an Orange County deputy district attorney. 

He had all the trappings of outward success – a good salary, home ownership, and a nice car. But something was missing. 

It was his last serious girlfriend who helped him find the missing piece. First, he began accompanying her to Sunday Mass. Eventually, he developed a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  

Fortunately, his girlfriend was understanding when it dawned upon him that the priesthood was a possibility. 

“God was very patient with me,” notes Fr. Tran about his calling to the priesthood. “He worked with my environment and the people around me to get me on the right path.” 

Like many young people, Fr. Tran says he grew away from Catholicism when he went to college in New York at Bernard M. Baruch College. 

“I started really practicing my faith when one of my girlfriends introduced me to praying the Rosary, going to daily Mass, and attending Eucharistic adoration.” 

After a decade with the D.A.’s office, he says, “I was under a lot of stress, I felt micromanaged, and I wasn’t fulfilled in my job. I thought about opening up my own criminal defense law office, but my priorities began to change. I wanted to be passionate about something.” 

After much thought and prayer, he discovered he was most passionate about his Catholic faith. So, in 2006, he decided to join the Oblates of the Blessed Virgin Mary, based in Boston, taking a one-year leave of absence from his job, selling his house and car, and giving up his four dogs to enter the seminary.  

“My family freaked out,” he recalls. “The whole family thought I was making a serious mistake, throwing my life away. They told me I was crazy.” 

After a year, Fr. Tran realized that he wasn’t called to serve in the small religious community. With a spiritual adviser’s help, he looked into becoming a diocesan priest.” 

When the Diocese of Orange sent him to St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park things finally fell into place. “I knew then that I didn’t want to be a D.A. anymore, and I resigned. I was constantly praying and open to God’s will – and everything felt right and good.” 

Then-Bishop Tod Brown offered Fr. Tran the opportunity to study at North American College at St. Thomas Aquinas University in Rome. “It was a huge blessing.” He was ordained a deacon in 2010 – and that is when his family finally accepted his choice. He earned a licentiate in humanism and interreligious dialog in sacred theology, and on June 11, 2011, he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Orange. 

Fr. Tran loves helping others develop spiritually. He created Fullness of Grace, a ministry that helps people grow in their Catholic faith through devotion to Our Lady. “I am really drawn to Mary,” he says. “I feel her close to me, guiding my discernment and vocation.” 

The ministry’s website, Facebook page, YouTube channel, and Instagram presence describe 12 qualities of Mary that people should emulate. Fr. Tran travels to parishes nationwide, giving retreats and making presentations about virtue, holiness, and spiritual life. He gives podcasts and presently is writing a book, “Fullness of Grace,” which he hopes to finish by the end of the year and submit to publishers. 

“Many people do not realize that grace is a gift from God that requires a response in order for it to bear fruit,” he notes. “Mary is the most perfect of all disciples and is full of grace – she knows how to respond fully. She is the perfect model for holiness.” 

Fr. Tran will begin working at St. Bonaventure this summer. “My charisms are teaching and preaching, building unity and helping people grow close to God,” he says. “I want to set the parish on fire for the love of God. Not only the parish Vietnamese community, but the entire parish community.”