Father Dat Hoang, pastor of St. Faustina Catholic Church in Fulshear, is this year’s Mission of Love gala honoree. The Sept. 8th “Boots and Blessings” themed event at Safari Texas Ranch benefitted the Mamie George Community Center, the hub for Catholic Charities services in Fort Bend County.
“Father Dat Hoang is tireless – almost like an Energizer Bunny,” said Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. “He’s a visionary priest.”
Father Dat is the founding pastor at the church, which came into being in 2014, when he was appointed by Cardinal DiNardo to solidify a congregation in the fast-growing community of Fulshear. Since that time, the parish has grown to become one of the largest congregations in the area. “I was the only parishioner when I came out here. And today, the Lord has blessed us with more than 5,000 families,” said Father Dat.
Dat Hoang’s remarkable life story includes how as a young child when he lived with his large Catholic family in Vietnam, he wanted to be a priest. And because his father had served as an officer in the South Vietnamese Air Force, their bishop advised that they leave Vietnam to realize the youngster’s dreams. It took two years and harrowing journeys to escape the country. Eventually, Dat Hoang was reunited with his brothers in Houston, where he pushed himself to learn English in high school, and went on to attend a seminary and realize his dream of becoming a priest.
“He is the most humble, spiritual man we know. We also know that the last thing he wants, is to draw attention to himself,” said John Gillespie, MGCC Advisory Board Chair and parishioner at St. Faustina Catholic Church, as part of the tribute to Father Dat at the gala. The Mission of Love Gala raises funds to provide social services at the Mamie George Community Center, which provides meals, gatherings and classes to keep seniors engaged and active. The center also provides vital services for people of all ages, a food pantry, financial assistance, help for women veterans, and parenting education for young families.
“We’re located in one of the poorest areas of Fort Bend County, so we see poverty every day,” said the center’s Executive Director Gladys Brumfield-James.
During the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, MGCC changed its food service provision and converted its operation to home deliveries for the meals and food to seniors, virtual interaction with other clients and drive-through food distribution. The center re-opened and is fully operating, including in-person “shopping” for food items in the food pantry – by appointment. Nearly five million pounds of food have been distributed, with help from a devoted corps of volunteers, since the pandemic began.