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A Catholic You Want to Know: John Bui

Senior at Subiaco Academy steps up for kids, the Vietnamese community at NLR parish

Published: March 13, 2024   
John Bui, a parishioner at St. Patrick Church in North Little Rock, is passionate about teaching younger kids and his Vietnamese community about the Catholic faith. (Katie Zakrzewski)

Name: John Tí Anh Bui

Age: 18

Parish: St. Patrick Church 

City: North Little Rock

Family: Father, Chuc Bui; mother, Hanh Nguyen; brother, James, 17; and sister, Jenna, 15

Why you want to know John: John Tí Anh Bui is determined to share the light of Christ with everyone he meets while continuing to honor his Vietnamese heritage. A senior at Subiaco Academy, Bui is involved with the executive student council, Blue Arrow, Heard Hall Perfect, Casa Club, Well Being Club, Future Business Leaders of America and religious clubs, in addition to participating in several sports. 

Bui frequently makes the two-hour drive to his home parish, St. Patrick Church in North Little Rock, to help with religious education for Vietnamese children and to be a mentor to younger kids. He plans to study marketing after high school, and once he completes college, he hopes to do mission work in Vietnam or Australia. 



How did you develop a passion for teaching younger kids?

When I was little, I had an illness that impacted my walking. I was very slow. So when I was little, I wanted to be a doctor or physical therapist who worked with younger kids. I have always had a passion for helping kids. In the summers, I work at Camp Subiaco, being a counselor in training for the past two years and doing it again this summer in June. I've always had a passion for showing kids what Subiaco is and what we are about. … My parents took care of me, and now it’s my turn to take care of others. … Some kids don’t get as much affection from their parents. And when you spend time with them, they feel loved by others.

Have there been any unique cultural challenges for you as someone involved in both the Vietnamese and Anglo communities?

My parents always worked very hard for me to be in a private Catholic school … so I’ve always been around Americans, and Catholic Americans, so that doesn’t have an effect on me going to St. Patrick’s. But the Vietnamese have different religions. Vietnamese people who are Buddhist and Baptist have always come to our church for Christmas parties, but Father (Jack Vu, pastor) always welcomes them in, so we don’t look at them differently. 

St. Patrick’s has really helped the Vietnamese community a lot. Back when I was in seventh grade and eighth grade, we did not have that many kids in Vietnamese religious education. And coming back every year, you can see it’s grown a lot — so many new kids I’ve never met before with their parents, which is very good for our parish. I feel like … having such a big Vietnamese population in my church is pretty good for a state like ours. 

Not many people your age are as devoted to the Church and their community as you are. What makes you and keeps you strong in your faith?

I always have my Bible and my prayer book next to my bed. And I always have my rosary nearby. I always go to Mass on Sundays and that helped me a lot — it reminded me that God’s always watching me. 

I was pretty shy when I was younger, but I think what really changed me was going to Subiaco and being very involved and growing in my Catholic faith. I think that helped me a lot, as well as going back to St. Patrick and showing the kids what I was learning at Subiaco. 

My parents taught me a lot, and how to become who I am. They make sure I’m always doing the right thing and keeping me on task. They taught me to do as much as I can before I graduate, and I have to them for helping me like that.


-- Katie Zakrzewski

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