New editor hopes to share ‘beauty and joy’ of Catholic faith

First woman, Vietnamese-American leads The Catholic Virginian

Lily Nguyen Dunkle is the daughter of parents who came to the United States as
refugees after the fall of Vietnam in 1975, a wife, mother of eight children, a TV news producer with 20 years’ experience and, in her words, “one of many families just trying to live and grow in the faith.”

As of Tuesday, Jan. 10, she is also the fifth editor of The Catholic Virginian — the first woman to hold that position in the more than 90-year history of the paper.

Born and raised in Alexandria, Nguyen Dunkle is a 2000 graduate of The College of William & Mary with a bachelor’s degree in English. Although she had an initial interest in print journalism, Nguyen Dunkle began her career in 2001 as a producer of TV newscasts at WVEC-TV 13, Norfolk. In 2019, she was hired as the senior news producer at WTKR/WGNT-TV, Norfolk. A year later, she was named executive producer, supervising the station’s entire nightside news staff.

“I’ve always had a love for storytelling and that’s how I got into local TV,” she said of her career.
Nguyen Dunkle and her husband, Heber, director of liturgy at their parish, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Newport News, homeschool their children, ages 2-17.

“I learned from my parents how to live with a quiet, strong, steadfast faith. They taught me to work hard and always give thanks to God,” she said. “Once I got married and had children, my faith became even more important to me. I started to think about ways I could use my skills to glorify God, especially once I started homeschooling my children.”

Nguyen Dunkle credits her husband and children with taking her love of Catholicism to the next level.

“I’ve grown to see there’s so much joy and beauty in our faith. That beauty is always evident in Catholic tradition, the sacred part of our faith, and the things we see in church, but what I’ve seen after becoming a mother is there’s also much joy that can be shared in modern, everyday life.”

Lest life in their household sounds as idyllic as that depicted in a ‘50s TV sitcom, Nguyen Dunkle put it in context.“There are definitely daily struggles, but I am a firm believer that every single person in the family plays an important role in the household,” she said. “It is difficult having a big family, but it is also a great way to teach your kids that working hard is holy and can be a prayer. Everyone can help with school, chores, and taking care of one another. And those contributions, big and small, no matter a person’s age, help make a happy and peaceful home, though not necessarily the tidiest.”
While Nguyen Dunkle doesn’t consider her own story “amazing,” she is interested in having The Catholic Virginian tell stories of Catholics living their faith in the Diocese of Richmond.“Inspiring acts come in all forms,” she said. “I’m excited to share stories that showcase the everyday beauty and joy of our faith in parishes, homes, and communities.”

Lily can be reached at lnguyen@catholicvirginian.org.
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