I recently got a call from a more-than-persistent lady to visit her Vietnamese father, who was unbaptized. I explained to the daughter that with the current hospital regulations, I could only go if he wants me there.
I had met him a while ago when he was at Fairfax Hospital for a different reason, and it was clear at that time that he enjoyed my visits, especially after he told me about his life. He practiced no religion, and the closest thing to religion was being a stoic (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoicism for more information on Stoicism). However, he did go to Catholic School in Vietnam and was familiar with priests.
He told me how he was given the bronze star by the U.S. Government. He was a doctor by trade, and although he was not an American, he risked his status in his own country by saving U.S. service men during the Vietnam war. It was for this service that he received the Bronze Star. Unfortunately, this was also the reason that the Communist Government in Vietnam put him in a concentration camp for five years. He eventually made it to America by boat and became a doctor here in Virginia.
I went to visit him often back then because he liked my visits and the fact that I considered him a hero. However, when I asked him then if he wanted to be baptized, he said “No.” I asked him three times over the two months that he was at the hospital, but he always said “No.” I finally accepted his answer, knowing that baptism is a sacrament of Faith, and that is it up to God to give a person that Faith.
Last week, I was told he had a fall and was back at the hospital. I got a text message that his daughter was in the room and she was asking if I could visit him. I came right away (this was on Sunday), and I asked him one more time “Do you want to receive baptism?” This time, he said a clear “Yes!” To make sure I heard right, I asked him again, and he again said “Yes.”
I went to the Chaplain’s office to get the Chrism oil so I could also give him confirmation. On the way to office, I got the idea of using Venerable Francis Xavier Tuan as his confirmation saint. I called the Vicar General, who told me that a confirmation saint had to be a Blessed or Saint. Since this was around the 3 o’clock hour, I decided on St. Faustina instead. So during this hour of Mercy, I administer Baptism and Confirmation, as well as giving him Eucharist and Anointing of the Sick.
Later that day, the daughter texted me 2 pictures from the room. There was a beautiful small image of the Divine Mercy that a previous family of a patient had put under some glass. How fitting! Also later that day (Sunday), while I was talking with a man outdoors, a white dove came to my feet. I immediately thought of this man, and saw the dove as a positive sign.
In closing, a few days later (Wednesday), I got this text from his daughter – “My father passed away 10 am to heaven to be w/ God, Mother Mary & his son. Please pray for him.”