Sr. To Anh Bui was born November 19, 1963 at Nha Trang, Vietnam the fifth out of eight children in the family.
Before entering the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, To Anh had previous religious life experience with the Daughters of Charity as a candidate. While she was with the Daughters of Charity, she attended to the needs of the cancer patients in the hospital. She washed their clothes, cleaned their rooms and gave them massage. She found it fulfilling listening to the patients’ stories and the patients found it comforting to have a listening ear. Her other ministry was teaching the kindergarteners for 5 years.
To Anh required her to leave the Daughters of Charity upon knowing her father’s whereabouts. Their family was separated as a consequence of the turmoil in Vietnam during the Communist regime. While her family waited to go to the United States, To Anh became the choir director at their parish in Ky Dong, Saigon, Vietnam.
Her mother and some of her siblings finally got reunited with her father in Michigan. Her first few years living in the United States brought some challenges. She did several odd jobs to survive and to get assimilated in the new culture. To Anh finally got a stable job making rear view mirrors which she did for eight years. While in Michigan, her musical talent was put to use once again as the director of the Vietnamese choir in their parish.
When To Anh went back to Vietnam for a visit, she met Phi Uong’s uncle. To Anh and Phi knew each other as they grew up in the same village in Vietnam. Phi’s uncle told To Anh that Phi joined the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary at Central Falls, RI. The calling to religious life sparked once again so she didn’t hesitate to visit Phi and the FMM community in Central Falls, RI. She found the community life very simple and the sisters were very close just like her big family. She was inspired by the community in Central Falls so she took her chances of writing the Superior General in Rome to ask permission to enter even though she was over the cut-off age of 35.
God certainly intervened and To Anh entered the prenovitiate in September 2001. In addition to getting acquainted with the FMM life, To Anh was immersed in a ministry as an assistant teacher for 2nd graders at St. Joseph School in Millbrook, NY. To Anh also shared her guitar skills in the parish.
In September 4, 2002, To Anh entered the novitiate. Her formation period included ministries in an assisted living in Coventry, RI and at John V. Doyle School where she assisted in a kindergarten class.
In September 4, 2004, To Anh made her temporary profession at Sts. John and Paul Parish, Coventry, RI. After her vows, she was missioned to Cardinal Hayes School where she worked as a teacher’s assistant for a year in a class for children with disabilities. She was moved to Brighton, MA to take ESL classes at Bunker Hill Community College. She also had private instruction in the theory of music, vocals and classical guitar. During the weekends, she gave communion to seniors at Neville Place in Cambridge, MA.
To Anh has always brought life to all with her gift of music. Her positive outlook in life must be brought about by her consistent prayer life as well as keeping herself fit through yoga and biking. To Anh’s positive outlook seems to rub on to others for they are all smiles after spending some time with To Anh.
To Anh hopes to learn more about music for she dreams of playing in a church choir again. She wishes to play her guitar to the elderly for it gives life and they also have fun. “I like to make people happy.”