Earlier this month I covered the dedication of Pinecrest Academy’s new John Paul II Lower School Activities Building. During the ribbon cutting ceremony, sandwiched between the Lower School principal and the construction company’s project manager was a woman named My Thi Huynh. To my surprise she was listed in the press release as “the teacher who has taught in the Lower School the longest.”
I met My Thi and her husband, Deacon Hung Viet, for the first time back in 1998. I was covering the annual Eucharistic celebration of Our Lady of LaVang at Riverdale’s Our Lady of Vietnam Church. Even though it was not her official role, My Thi was like the parish ambassador, and she made me feel very welcome during that initial visit to the parish.
In August of 1998 Pinecrest Academy broke ground on what began as its 53-acre Cumming location. I was there as Archbishop emeritus John F. Donoghue presided over the ceremony to turn over the dirt, mixed with Georgia red clay, marking the beginning of its Forsyth County existence. Today it has grown into a sprawling campus with 15 buildings, two gymnasiums and three athletic fields.
Through it all My Thi has been a part of the Pinecrest Academy growth and expansion. Initially she served as a parent volunteer when her youngest son John attended the school. In 1997 she became a teacher’s assistant at the Lower School. My Thi said it’s a wonderful opportunity to work with the young children at Pinecrest Academy. “It’s like a family at Pinecrest and there’s a love expressed by all at the school,” said My Thi. Before the students arrive, the teachers come together in the hallway each morning to pray that the Lord will show them the way to help and guide each child through the day.
My Thi came to the United States from Vietnam in 1975. She is the seventh of 10 children. My Thi and her husband were married at St. Margaret of Scotland Church, Morristown, N.J., in 1978. In addition to John, they are parents to Peter, 30, and Jason, 29. Both young men are seminarians with the Legionaries of Christ in Rome. In her spare time My Thi said she likes to cook, garden and take walks so she can meditate and reflect.
I’ve always known My Thi as a kind person who exudes a jovial and peaceful disposition. I also know her to be a devout and faith-filled Catholic woman. She told me she attends 7 a.m. Mass in the school’s main chapel every morning. Even though she resides in Norcross, occasionally I see her at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta; yet, until recently I never knew that since 1994, she spends one hour a week praying before the Blessed Sacrament in the adoration chapel.
My Thi said the innocence and pure souls of Pinecrest’s youngest students provides an example to her. “The parents give their children to me so I can look after and care for them, so that’s a big responsibility for me and all the teachers. But what a blessing and a gift,” concluded My Thi.
Michael Alexander, Staff Photographer
See the story and photos surrounding dedication of Pinecrest Academy’s new John Paul II Lower School Activities Building in the Oct. 27 issue of The Georgia Bulletin.