As a teenager, my family and I emigrated to America from Vietnam in 1985. After having graduated from the State University of New York in Geneseo, my plan of going to graduate school for architecture drastically changed. While in Italy where I stayed for an extended time, I not only discovered my God-given gift as a painter of sacred art but also experienced God’s special love which manifested the beginning of my conversion to Catholicism and a remarkable spiritual journey with God. The beloved Saints, Francis and Clare especially prayed and continue to intercede for me.
Coming back home to Geneseo, as a lost soul, I declined the offer of admission to graduate school and started my search for God. I painted a life-sized, 200lb. crucifix and began the public speaking ministry, started at the International Medieval Conference in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1997. For the next two years, I took the Geneseo Crucifix (as I named it) to churches in and out of state and spoke about the two-year long process how it was created. The Crucifix journey finally brought me to the Abbey of the Genesee in Piffard, New York where Abbot John Eudes Bamberger recognized God’s working in me and eventually became my spiritual director. Like a sponge, I absorbed almost everything the Reverend Father discussed and taught me about God. I finally joined the R.C.I.A. program and entered the Catholic Church on Easter of 1998. Clare was chosen as my Christian name because of the beloved St. Francis’ influence. Minh means intelligent/bright, and Clare means illustrious/bright. It was preordained!
Like my Saints, being misunderstood and without support from my family, I began to embrace a life of poverty, simplicity and humility living as a poor Clare who seeks God in the suffering Jesus. I did explore to join different religious orders. However, God has a different plan. Under the sage guidance and teaching of Abbot John Eudes and the influence of the Genesee Abbey brothers’ way of life, after nine years of learning how to live the life filled with graces as much as trials, I took my perpetual vow living as a consecrated virgin in the world. Following the pattern established in the primitive Church by the dedicated Christian virgins, I live the life as a lay woman, dedicated to contemplative prayer and service to those in need, especially the elderly and children. I earns my living by writing icons, selling art reproductions and working at Duplicating Center of Geneseo College.
When there is a special call, I travel and share passionately my everyday unique experiences of God and urge people not to take theirs for granted. I have gone to parishes, retreat centers, universities, seminaries, monasteries and convents located in various States. People of all ages are encouraged to assist one another in their search for God, especially children who are dearly loved by the Blessed Mother whom, in faith, I have grown to know and love.
In 2014, as I worked with 72 homeschooled children (They learned and performed the Annunciation Musical which I was inspired to compose and direct), my desire of finding a piece of land to build a Marian House so children can be brought to Our Lady became ever more intense. It was God’s time! I made a great act of faith and purchased a piece of wooded and untouched virgin land filled with poison ivy and infested with mosquitoes. “The Grotto was worse. Our Lady will help me”. Without enough funding and physical strength, the task seemed impossible, but not for God. After about eight months of clearing the land, using only two hand saws and receiving some help from kindest strangers with bigger trees, God was gloried for He miraculously fulfilled the dream. The long-awaited vision and two years of considerable suffering finally gave birth to a beautiful House for the Mother of God. The beloved Abba did the honor of blessing and dedicating it to Our Lady on her Assumption feast, 2017. With the help of the Genesee Valley BOCES Building Trades (one teacher aide, three teachers and sixty-five high school students), throughout the nine months, I watched, learned and physically helped build the House. I even received a honorary certificate from the school. I am a proud carpenter of the dear St. Joseph!
“The Blessed Mother takes my offering seriously and seems to like Her house!” I wrote to the spiritual father. As the caretaker of the House, I pray in the Chapel, write icons and pleads for those who seek consolation from the Mother of God who said: “I ardently desire that a temple be built for me here, where I can show and offer all my love, compassion, help and protection, for I am your merciful mother. Here I wish to hear and help you, and all who dwell in this land and all those others who love me, and invoke and place their confidence in me; and to hear your complaints and remedy all your sorrows, hardships, and suffering.”
As I looked forward to doing ministry with children, my path following God, however, took a sharp turn. I was asked to help at the Genesee Abbey new store as its manager for more than two years until the pandemic hit. It was a successful endeavor which I gained the experience of a lifetime. For over 5 years, after I successfully built the Marian House and ran the Abbey religious gift-shop, I am now back living the contemplative life on this God given-land as I mourn the passing of the beloved spiritual father. I pray for the grace to carry on his legacy and follow his footsteps. May you, the Reverend Father of many and of mine, rest in peace. Amen.
I am inspired; therefore, I desire. But only doing the will of God who enkindles my spirit and blesses my effort, can give me the strength and the courage to carry it out because like many, I am called to love and to serve Him who is the loving and merciful Father of us all. He is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob and the God of my spiritual father.
I ask for your prayers, and I thank all whom God has been sending to help me on my journey to search for Him. I pray that God’s gifts to the Church through my sharing “A Soul’s Journey with God” story and my “praising-with-color” sacred icon images will help enkindle, strengthen, color and open your spirit to the Heavenly Father’s love in a special way. Amen.
Last updated on January 19, 2021