Life of a Brave: 21 Questions with Brother Kris Tran
by Ethan Gibbs
This year, St. John Bosco High School welcomes Brother Kris Tran from Vietnam to the Brave community.
Q. Where did you grow up?
A. I grew up in Saigon, officially known as Ho Chi Minh City, in Vietnam.
Q. What inspired you to become a Brother?
A. Don Bosco. The more I learn about the life, the work and the spirit of St. John Bosco, the more I want to be like him and dedicate my life to young people.
Q. What event in your life gave you the most impact on becoming a Brother?
A. It’s hard to pinpoint one singular event that impacted my decision to be a brother, because it’s a gradual process. So, I guess if you think about your whole life as one event, it is that event, as God has kept working to change me for the better.
Q. What is something you wish more people knew about you?
A. I wish people knew that being a religious Brother is different from being a Brother in transition to become a priest. If God wills this vocation for me, I will be a Brother for life.
Q. Did you want to become a Brother when you were younger or was it something that was sprung on you?
A. When I was younger, I wasn’t even a good Catholic (haha). Thank God my faith slowly grew.
Q. What are the best and worst parts about your faith and the rules you have to follow?
A. The best part is that I can work with many different young people from all around the world. The worst part, probably, is waking up very early every morning. I’m not a morning person.
Q. What are some interesting rules most people don’t know about becoming a Brother?
A. Being a Brother, I can study what I like and discover how I can use what I learn to serve young people, instead of studying solely theology to become a priest.
Q. What are some difficulties about being a Brother, and has there ever been a time when you thought it would be too much?
A. Not being able to spend more time with your friends and family can be difficult sometimes. I never thought it would be too much, however, I do have doubts occasionally about my decision, but it’s all part of discernment process
Q. How have you overcome any challenges regarding what your faith requires of you?
A. Having a spiritual director helps me a lot. It’s like having a counselor, but on top of that, he is also a spiritual father who can guide me through difficult times
Q. What is the best thing about being a Brother?
A. I am automatically a brother to everybody.
Q. Has God ever reached out to you or contacted you in any way?
A. I believe that God speaks to me through other people and events that happen in my daily life. In my heart, I just have to be tuned in to listen.
Q. Did your parents support your decision about what you wanted to do with your life?
A. Yes, my parents have always been supportive of me. My father even said that if religious life doesn’t work out, then I can just come home anytime.
Q. Have you always believed in God?
A. I have always believed in God. However, I have not always had a personal relationship with God. When I was in high school in Vietnam, I believed that there is a God, but I didn’t really practice my faith as much.
Q. What does your day look like when you don’t go to school for work?
A. Nowadays, I usually do lesson planning for the following weeks or grade papers that the students turned in.
Q. How long do you pray a day and how often?
A. For us Salesians, we pray constantly. It’s called Contemplative In Action (CIA). It means that our conversation with God includes even the breaths that we take through the day. We don’t spend hours in the chapel to recite prayers, but our prayer is through our deeds, through meeting people, through working with kids, etc. Of course, there is time during the day when we need to sit down, calm down and center ourselves to meditate.
Q. Does it get hot in the robes you have to wear for mass everytime?
A. As Brothers, we don’t wear those garments in Mass. Only the priest, or one who’s becoming a priest, does.
Q. Have you ever thought about becoming a priest? And what would be the steps for you to do that?
A. I thought about that before deciding to be a Brother instead. Well, there are lots of steps to be a priest, including a lot of study in theology and philosophy.
Q. If you could have another job what would it be?
A. I would be a mental health counselor, and probably also a college professor.
Q. What is some interesting information about living on campus? What is it like? How many rooms? Is it one bed? Do you have a TV? And what do you and the other priests and Brothers do for fun?
A. As a community, we pray and go to Mass together every day. Once a month, we have a small retreat for a day. We each have our own rooms with our own bathrooms. However, it’s different from when we were in the previous stages. We have a room called the Community Room with a TV. For fun, we sometimes go out for food, drink some boba, go to the beach, go hiking, watch movies, play miniature golf, etc.
Q. Do you have a favorite sport or sports team?
A. My favorite sport is soccer, or what the whole world calls football. Liverpool from England is my favorite team.
Q. Do you think pineapple goes on pizza?
A. It should be illegal.