The black-garbed priest raised his hands in blessing over the youthful couple—the lovely bride, Nhung Thi Nguyen, in exquisite white gown, and the groom, Lam Thuy Nguyen, in a natty yellow tuxedo.

The sun beamed through the church’s stained-glass windows, which depict the Apostles holding out a large net. It seemed particularly appropriate: the Apostles and Father Thang—all fishers of men.different people from different regions

I caught Father Thang after the ceremony, congratulating him for his work in bringing together the once scattered fishermen’s families from the town of Vung Tau.
He shrugged. “I only do what I must do. The people come here, so I come here. I come here, so the people come here. It’s all the same. We stay together.

“But, please, you must forgive me,” he said, “I am needed. . . .” And off he went on another errand of the spirit, shepherding his wandering people.

BUT THERE ARE TROUBLES. The wanderers from Vung Tau want to do more than shuck oysters. They want to resume their lives as fishermen. Even before they came to Biloxi, the families around
New Orleans—those that could scrape up the money—began buying whatever small fishing boats were available, many rusted and leaking. For a time whole families lived aboard these decrepit vessels.

A few started docking in Empire, Louisiana, an hour’s drive from New Orleans.
“I’ve fished here all my life,” a fisherman in Empire told me. “Mostly I keep to a certain territory. Then, all of a sudden, these Vietnamese start puttin’ in here-35 or 40 boats at first, then more and still more. My catch went down a third this past year. I don’t want them poachin’ on me. We got a hard enough time makin’ ends meet as it is.” The wanderers from Vung Tau quickly got the message that they were unwelcome.Signs appeared: No Vietnamese Wanted.people from all over the country

Docking privileges for Vietnamese were sharply restricted. They found it hard to sell
their catch to local shrimp and seafood buyers. There were even incidents of physical harassment and threats of worse—though no one was hurt. Not in Empire, anyway.
But over in Seadrift, Texas-450 miles away—the mounting violence exacted its
toll. An American fisherman was shot and killed by a Vietnamese member of a group of fishermen similar to the one from Vung Tau. The case went to court. Verdict: justifiable homicide in self-defense, prompted by intolerable harassment. But this hardly mollified sentiments on either side.