BIOGRAPHY OF NGUYỄN HÒA AN (1925-2016)
Mrs. Nguyễn Hòa An was born on July 21, 1925 in Long Kiến village, An Giang Province, Vietnam. She was the daughter of Nguyễn Xuân Phong and Nguyễn Thi Hạnh. Her great grandfather was healed from illness by Đức Phật Thầy Tây An - Buddha Preceptor of the Western Peace - when he was at Cốc Ông Kiến, which is now Tây An Cỗ Tự Temple. Her grandfather and father both practiced traditional Bữu Sơn Kỳ Hương Buddhism.
Mrs. Nguyễn Hòa An was admitted to the hospital on May 26, 2016 and passed away peacefully on May 28, 2016. She left a letter dated May 26, 1999 – seventeen years to the day before her admission to the hospital where she departed in peace. In this letter she wrote, “Life is impermanent, so I am writing this letter for you all to know my last words and wishes. Once I have passed, you should be in silence, solemnly pray to the Buddha, and follow Hoa Hao Buddhist rituals.”
Like many Hoa Hao Buddhists, Mrs. Nguyễn Hòa An became an adept of Prophet Huỳnh in her youth and was blessed to live at Hoa Hao Holy Land. She was a close friend to Ms. Huỳnh Thị Kim Biên, the Prophet’s sister. While living at Tổ Đình the two young women cared for Đức Bà, the Prophet’s mother, and Nguyễn Hòa An sometimes recited the Prophecies to Đức Ông, the Prophet’s father. She was considered as their goddaughter and well loved by both of them.
During the resistance against French Colonialism, Đức Ông sent Nguyễn Hòa An and Mr. Trần Văn Tươi to Saigon to be with Ms. Năm Cò and Ms. Ký Giỏi to work under the Prophet’s command. Her duty was to be a liaison agent to 72 networks of Hòa Hảo Buddhism. She often used her bike to make contact with the Prophet to alert him about raids by the French, to disseminate leaflets, and to bring secret messages among other tasks like writing and distributing propaganda. All this work entailed great danger and required courage, intelligence and diligence. She was occasionally caught by the French and bailed out by Chủ Cưu’s brother Mr. Cả Nản, who was Lâm Ngọc Thạch’s father.
Mrs. Nguyễn Hòa An was married to Nguyễn Long Thành Nam, a loyal follower of the Prophet. He held many important positions in the Vietnam Democratic Socialist Party. He was also the Chief Secretary of the Central Executive Board of Hòa Hảo Buddhist Church at Hoa Hao Holy Land. Nguyễn Hòa An has always been a great support to her husband in his religious duties and responsibilities. During the First Republic of South Vietnam, they had to live in exile in Cambodia when Hòa Hảo Buddhism was persecuted by the regime in the 1950s and 1960s.
Mrs. Nguyễn Hòa An and her family settled in the US in June 1975. Together with her husband, they contributed to the revival of Hòa Hảo Buddhist activities overseas and founded the Hòa Hảo Buddhist Foundation of Southern California, US. They also republished Đuốc Từ Bi (the Torch of Compassion) magazine, the mouthpiece of the Hòa Hảo Buddhist Church overseas. She was an adviser to the Board of Administration of the Southern California Hòa Hảo Buddhist Church until her death.
Mrs. Nguyễn Hòa An is survived by her six children, four daughters and two sons, and by seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.