The Perth Catholic community has recently paid tribute to Fr Francis Ly Van Ca, who passed away 26 July 2022.
Ordained 1 December 1984 by then Archbishop William Foley, Fr Francis Ly was known as a genuine boat person, arriving in Perth after the fall of Saigon, sailing silently at night in a small boat, through the Mekong Delta into open waters to safety.
He took shelter on an island till the UNHCR cleared him to go to Perth.
Already a Deacon, he approached Archbishop Foley who placed him under the care of Fr Pat Russell in Maida Vale.
He was the first Vietnamese Priest in the Archdiocese of Perth. His appointments included
1984 – 1985 Assistant Priest at Greenwood Parish
1985 – 1989 Assistant Priest at Maida Vale Parish
1989 – 1992 Assistant Priest at Leederville Parish
1992 – 2000 Chaplain for Vietnamese Catholic Community WA
2000 – 2001 Parish Priest at Broadmeadows Deanery, Melbourne
2001 – 2004 Parish Priest at Bentley Parish
2004 – 2008 Parish Priest at Maddington Parish
2008 – 2015 Parish Priest at Lockridge Parish
2015 – 2019 Parish Priest at Maida Vale Parish
2019 – 2020 Parish Priest at Embleton Parish
Below is an edited version of the Eulogy by Archbishop Emeritus Barry Hickey of Fr Francis.
Today, as we commend the soul of Fr Francis Ly to his merciful Lord, our sympathy goes out to his two sisters, his other family members, to the Vietnamese Community, and to all his parishioners and friends whom he served for many years.
As one of those priests who remained close to him from the time he arrived, I consider it a privilege to say a few words as we pray for the repose of his soul.
Fr Francis was always grateful to Archbishop William Foley for accepting him and ordaining him as a priest.
When he escaped from the new Communist regime, he did not know whether his dream, shared by his mother, that he be a priest, would ever happen.
Archbishop Foley placed him as a Deacon in the Parish of Maida Vale with Fr Pat Russell, to help him with the English language and the roles of Deacon and priest in the Australian context.
Fr Francis was always grateful to Fr Pat Russell and very sad when he died while in Jerusalem on a Pilgrimage.
Others were close to him as well. He had a particular love for Sr Patricia Byrne RNDM, whom I appointed to work with the Vietnamese Community.
He was grateful to Monsignor Michael Keating for his chaplaincy to the growing Vietnamese Community and was happy to take over as Chaplain as the workload increased.
I was the Parish Priest of Sacred Heart Parish of Highgate when the Vietnamese Sunday Mass was in the Highgate Church.
It was during that time that Archbishop Foley bought a Hall in Barlee St for the Community.
The hall was used by Fr Francis till other accommodation was found in Westminster.
This was before the Vietnamese Community discovered that the large complex close to Wanneroo Rd, Balcatta was for sale.
Fr Francis continued to be chaplain until the new building was transformed into a great church and Hall, used now so frequently by the Archdiocese for major events.
Fr Francis handed over the Chaplaincy to Fr Minh Thuy and began his life as parish priest in a number of parishes, as you know.
In all of this he continued to celebrate Mass with deep love for the Eucharist and its solemnity.
Conscious that people could not always understand him, he used to print out his Homily and project in on a screen so people could follow it easily.
Only a few know of his enormous generosity.
In addition, he helped poor parishes in northern Vietnam to build churches and presbyteries. I accompanied him on some of those missions.
In a recent project to build a church, he was given incorrect information about costs.
Determined to build the church he began asking his friends like Mgr Keating and me to help, while he began collecting used containers to cash them for 10 cents each. Even this humble task was not beyond him.
On a personal note, Fr Francis joined our group of Monday tennis players.
The numbers dwindled over the years till four of us were left – which included Fr Francis.
We all enjoyed his company over many years.
Fr Francis suffered a significant stroke that nearly claimed his life in recent years, continuing to survive for many months under the tender care of the staff at Castledare.
I am sad to lose a dear friend, but glad that his daily suffering is now over and that he can receive eternal life for the Lord whom he served so faithfully. May his soul, and the souls of all the Faithful Departed rest in peace.