New priest on campus

New priest on campus

The Rev. Phillip Tran (left) leaves the University to move closer to family, and the Rev. Leo Siqueira will take over his role on campus.
By Mike Piacentino

The Rev. Phillip Tran (left) leaves the University to move closer to family, and the Rev. Leo Siqueira will take over his role on campus.

New priest on campus

By Mike Piacentino
The Rev. Phillip Tran’s tenure as the first dedicated Catholic priest on campus comes to end as the Rev. Leo Siqueria prepares to take the helm of Catholic life on campus

When the Rev. Phillip Tran arrived at the University of Miami in August 2017, it was not the first time he stepped foot on campus. Nearly a decade earlier, in 2008, the now Catholic priest graduated from the University with a degree in neuroscience and immediately entered seminary. Once ordained as a priest in 2015, Tran ministered at the Church of the Little Flower in Coral Gables for two years before joining the St. Augustine Church and Catholic Student Center in 2017.

Father Philip Tran
The Rev. Phillip Tran

Tran’s stint at St. Augustine, which is located across the street from the intramural fields, presented him with the opportunity of a lifetime: to serve as the first Catholic priest at his Alma Mater. Last month, Tran ended his tenure at St. Augustine when he accepted a transfer to the Diocese of Beaumont, Texas, to be closer to his family.

Reflecting on the pasts four years, Tran hopes that his efforts helped to bring people of all faiths and belief systems together in a productive and affirming way.

“I think that being an alumnus has really opened doors for me since students were always so happy to have a fellow ’Cane as a priest,” he said. “I loved that there were so many people who came to our group and to see the unconditional love we have for each other as a big and beautiful family.”

In addition to serving as the first dedicated Catholic priest on campus, Tran also chaired the University’s interfaith Chaplains Association, something he called, “one of the greatest honors of my life.”

Whether joining students for a cup of coffee in between classes or riding his infamous scooter around campus, Tran was a present force in the daily lives of students. In recognition of his many efforts, Tran received a special tribute at the University’s May commencement ceremonies to thank him for his service to the campus community.

“Father Tran has been a constant presence on campus and ministered daily to students, staff, and faculty,” said Patricia A. Whitely, senior vice president for student affairs and executive board member of the National Catholic Campus Ministry Association. “He will be greatly missed, but I want to thank him for his four years of leadership and service to our students and community.”

Father Leo Siqueira
The Rev. Leo Siqueira

The Rev. Leo Siqueira, who was first ordained as a deacon in April 2020 and was recently ordained priest and assigned to St. Augustine, will take Tran’s place as the University’s dedicated Catholic priest. Although his post at St. Augustine will be his first assignment as priest, his seminary education spanned a range of experiences including religious education for children and adults, prison and hospital ministry, and work with those facing drug addiction.

“Although I do not have direct experience with university students, Father Tran will continue to guide me,” said Siqueira, who officially began his post on June 1. “I will take time this summer to learn all I can about my new role and how to connect with students. Come fall, I look forward to making myself available to students and the campus community.”