Allen Phu is a respiratory therapist at CHOC Children’s Hospital of Orange County. That’s where he met his girlfriend Maria Thrasher, who directly influenced his determination to join the Catholic faith.
“For two years I went to Mass with my girlfriend, but I did not understand the message of the Gospel,” says Phu. “I just wanted her to be happy with me.”
Phu says he never really followed Buddhism, the religion of his culture, because his parents did not teach him that religion. He simply began going to Mass every Sunday when his girlfriend invited him.
“At first I was reluctant,” he says. “But I ended up going with her.”
Phu admits he did not know much about any religion.
But one day he was watching Discovery Channel series: “History of the Bible.” He shared those moments with Maria. When the series ended, Phu recalls saying aloud, “Why doesn’t everyone believe in Jesus?”
It was at that moment that he began to be interested in knowing more about who God is and started asking questions about Catholicism.
Maria suggested he learn more about the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program at the Holy Family Cathedral in Orange.
“So it all started,” Phu says. His journey to the faith culminated on March 26, when he was baptized by Monsignor Douglas Cook during the Easter Vigil.
Now, Phu receives communion every Sunday. He is learning to pray the rosary, but he has learned something important: he is conscious that God is a God of forgiveness, love and mercy.
“He sent His beloved Son to die for us,” says Phu. “I rejoice to know that the Catholic Church always speaks of forgiveness and love … That’s what I always wanted for myself and my girlfriend … Today more than ever I want to be like Jesus and go to heaven.”
Phu also recognizes that now, as a Catholic, he is called to holiness.
“I want to be a saint,” he says. “I will do the best I can, because Jesus Christ is everything. He is everything to me. It teaches me that if I believe in Him, I’ll have the possibility of attaining eternal life.”
During the feast of St. Thomas, Phu heard the Gospel of St. John 20: 24-29, when Thomas, one of the 12 disciples expresses disbelief at the manifestation of Christ risen from the dead, because he was not with them.
“We have seen the Lord,” the other disciples said to him, but he answered, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
“I was like Thomas, but right now I’m a full believer,” Phu says. “I looked for the answer of my life and found it in Christ; as Thomas, He gives me peace … Everybody should know Christ and the blessing of faith is also for us who are more than two thousand years away from the Apostles.”
In June, Phu and Maria will be parents of a girl, who will they name Abigail. They have chosen that name because its meaning comes from the Hebrew words “ab” which means father and “gyil” that is joy, so it could be translated as “father’s joy.”
Joy is what Phu has found in Jesus Christ.