Father Hilarius Tran-Khac-Hy
Father Hilarius Tran-Khac-Hy

Father Hilarius Tran-Khac-Hy, a priest for more than 60 years and native of Vietnam who ministered to Vietnamese Catholics in Maryland, Washington and Virginia, died July 14 at a retirement home in Gaithersburg. He was 91.

Ordained a priest in Vietnam in 1957, he was incardinated as a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington in 1977.

Born Jan. 30, 1927 in Thanh-Hóa, Vietnam, he studied at St. Sulpice Seminary in Hanoi, and was ordained to the priesthood in the Cathedral of Saigon in 1957. As a priest for the Diocese of Saigon, Father Father Tran-Khac-Hy served as a chaplain and associate pastor before becoming founding pastor of Assumption Parish, where he worked with parishioners in building a new church. From 1962-75, he served as pastor of Christ the King Church in Phanri City and was also the principal of an elementary school and a teacher at a high school.

In 1975, Father Tran-Khac-Hy came to the United States as a refugee. Two years later, he became a priest of the archdiocese and began serving the pastoral needs of local Vietnamese Catholics at Our Lady of Vietnam Parish in Silver Spring until his retirement in 1994.

“He was well liked, especially by those older members of the parish who remember how he was involved in the parish from its first stages, when it was still a mission, said Father Tam Tran, pastor of Our Lady of Vietnam Parish.

Father Tran-Khac-Hy “was a traditional priest who was very well versed in English, Latin and French and who was involved in different ministries,” Father Tran said. “He was retired, but he kept involved and was especially in visiting the sick and the dying and administering the sacraments. He was very generous and sacrificial.”

After his retirement, from 1997-98, he did pastoral work for the Vietnamese community in Richmond and Arlington, Virginia, and from 1998-2001, the priest did pastoral work for the Vietnamese community in Maryland, with the permission of the archbishops of Washington and Baltimore.

In 2017, as he prepared to celebrate the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, Father Tran-Khac-Hy expressed gratitude for the archbishops, priests and “good faithful Catholics” of the archdiocese who “sponsored and received this humble servant Hilarius to serve God’s people in this Archdiocese of Washington, and God bless all of you and my second fatherland, America.”

Cardinal Donald Wuerl celebrated a July 20 funeral Mass for Father Tran-Khac-Hy at Our Lady of Vietnam Church. Interment was in Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Silver Spring.