Reflection by Huy

Hi, my name is Huy Nguyen. I’d like to start by thanking Father John Paul Forte, the staff at this Newman Center Catholic Community at UCSD, Julie Marner, and the choir for the beautiful music tonight. Also, there is a huge mailing list that Melissa put together called “Ben’s Giant Circle of Love”. Many of you are here tonight, and I’d also like to thank you. But I’d like to reserve the biggest thank you to the Hornes for coming out here to San Diego. Thank you for allowing us to share our stories of Ben with you in person. It is such a blessing and gift.

So, here is a story for you...

When I first met Ben, and people never believe me when I say this, he was very shy. He always used to sit in the back corner at 7:30 evening mass here with his Run DMC hoodie on. The evening mass is always really contemplative with dim light and candles - like it is right now in the church. After he met Father John Paul, Ben found our Small Church Community. You can think of it like Bible Study. I always like to say that it is like a local family. Many of our families are far away. Personally, my parents and siblings are in Portland, Oregon. Ben had family in Virginia, New Mexico, and all over the place. After Ben found us, and got comfortable, he would host at his house, share his faith, eat with us, share his adventures and travels. That’s how I first met Ben. This is where I saw him the most and got to know him in a way that I believe was very special.

Then, Ben and I got involved in the Young Adult Group (YAG) here at the Newman Center. I’m pretty sure that Father John Paul doesn’t remember it this way, but one day, he invited Ben, Stephanie and I to a meeting. The meeting was about how to get our Young Adult community some new energy. It was a mix of those that had been involved for a long time, and those that were new. He asked “Who here is burnt-out and needs a break from YAG”, and since we were new, we didn’t raise our hands. All the people that had been involved for a long time raised their hands. Suddenly, Father JP proclaimed, “The rest of you are the new core team for YAG, pick a chairperson and get started.” We looked around at each other confused, but we just rolled with it. And so, we picked Steph as our chair, and got to work.

Ben’s greatest asset to the Young Adult Group was his ability to recruit. He had a very strong first impression. It wasn’t always a good first impression, but it was strong. Usually, if it wasn’t good, I would have to deal with that person. After we got involved in the Young Adult Group, that was when Ben really started to organize camping trips, concert viewings, Thanksgiving Dinners, climbing outings, and hosting many large gatherings at his house. He started a monthly Taize Prayer group. Many of the songs we heard tonight were Taize songs. He loved it because it was ecumenical, and during Christian Unity week, we’d invite the Episcopal community whom we share this space with.

That’s was what Ben did here. That’s what Ben meant to this place.

As for me personally, Ben was my friend. The moments I remember most were the moments where I could share a little part of myself with him. I took him to a USC football game. We went to Tijuana to build houses for three days during New Years. I took him on his first trip to Mammoth, and met him in Tahoe for snowboarding. He was able to meet my mom and dad, and both of my brothers.

I found out that they had found Ben and Gil’s bodies on Saturday like everyone else. The next day at Mass, Father JP implored us. How would we “Maintain the Light”. I really don’t know what I will do yet. But I know why it is important. What I do know is that for the rest of my life, there are certain things I will do or see that will always make me remember Ben.

If I’m ever here at evening mass, sitting over

there in that dim corner, I’ll remember...

If I’m ever outdoors enjoying nature,

I’ll remember...

Next month when my brother does the Iron

Man in New York, I’ll remember...

Whenever a member of our group gets married

or has kids, I’ll remember...

Whenever I’m in the mountains, I’ll remember...

“Maintain the Light” was the inscription from a card that Ben’s grandmother sent him shortly before she passed. There was a picture of a lighthouse on it. In the past, lighthouses were used for navigation. Even in darkness and in stormy waters, if you see the lighthouse, you know exactly where you are. Right now, that gives me comfort. Thank you.

Huy gave this reflection at the Memorial Mass for Ben at UCSD on Aug 13, 2012