This data was last updated on 5 May 2022.
Address: 47 Wilbur St, Lowell, MA 01851
Phone: (978) 441-6979
History: Chùa Tường Vân Lowell was established in 2010 by the current Abbot monk in the temple, Venerable Thích Tâm Hỷ. The Venerable was invited to establish a temple in Lowell to serve the Vietnamese population northwest of Boston, who would otherwise have to travel over 40 minutes to attend a temple. Although services began when the temple opened, the temple was officially recognized by the IRS as a temple and non-profit organization in 2012.
Initially, Venerable Thích Tâm Hỷ was the only Monk in charge of the temple, but as the population of visitors grew, other Monks have come in and out of residency. In 2013, the temple expanded its physical space by adding a Dharma hall in the back. The temple is funded by Buddhist community members around the Boston area.
Description of Center’s Physical Space: Chùa Tường Vân is located in Lowell, MA. The building, which was originally a residential home, sits across from an Auto Body Shop. The outside is painted a pastel yellow and is lined with gold molding between columns. There is a Guanyin altar outdoors surrounded by a garden, and a dragon statue that wraps around the roof. The front porch has American, Southern Vietnamese, and Buddhist flags. There is a narrow driveway next to the building for parking.
Upon entering, there is a foyer with a golden Buddha statue in the back and a large table used for community events and meals. A large kitchen is visible from this area.
The foyer leads into a Dharma hall that was added to the building in 2016. The main altar holds a large Buddha statue, surrounded by flowers and fruit offerings. There is a hand-painted Bodhi tree mural behind the Buddha statue. There are two additional altars on each side, one to honor passed Sangha members on the right, and another to honor international Monastics who have passed on the left. The left altar also holds a Guanyin statue. There are no seats or tables in the Dharma hall; instead meditation cushions are arranged for meditation and chanting services. The temple also has a large basement used for youth group meetings and language classes.
Community: The majority of temple visitors are Vietnamese. However, members of other ethnicities frequent the temple as well. To accommodate for this diversity, programs are led both in English and Vietnamese.
One notable aspect of this temple is the well structured youth group, made up of Vietnamese children in kindergarten through twelfth grade. Including youth group leaders and volunteers, there are about 55 people participating in the program.
The size of the congregation on major days of prayer differs greatly from that of normal days. In their morning chanting and meditation service the number of attendees varies depending on the day. On holidays like the Lunar New Year, the Buddha’s Birthday, and Parent Appreciation day, the size of temple attendees can grow to 150 to 200 people.
- Venerable Thích Tâm Hỷ is the Abbot Monk in this temple. He founded the temple in 2010, and now leads weekly meditation, chanting, and Dharma services, on top of fulfilling other Monastic duties.
- The second monastic who resides at the temple is Venerable Thích Phap Hanh.
- Dr. Tham Tran is the youth group leader of the temple. She leads and organizes weekly services, and creates the curriculum for the Youth Group at Chùa Tường Vân.
Current Activities: Daily service: Every morning at 6 AM (except for Monday and Tuesday, although the temple is still open for individual practice) the temple hosts a morning chanting and meditation ceremony led by Tham and Thích Tâm Hỷ.
On Wednesday nights, they offer a guided and walking meditation followed by a Dharma discussion in English. The discussion topic and reading is sent out in advance via email by Joe Curran, an American volunteer at the temple. This service also has a live streaming component, with cameras set up to accommodate about 40 remote viewers on Facebook and Youtube.
Every Saturday, a Youth Group is held in the Temple. This group meeting involves Vietnamese language, Dharma, and social skill classes. These classes are taught by the director, Tham, or the youth group leaders. The Youth Group leaders often are former members of the program who returned to the temple after graduating from high school or college. Language classes are broken into five proficiency levels, each group varies in ages.
The temple also holds a Vietnamese Sunday service for adults, from 6:00 AM to 1:00 PM. This service includes chanting, meditation, and a Dharma discussion. On the first Sunday of every month, a full day retreat is offered from 6:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Special Programs: Every July, Chùa Tường Vân hosts a meditation retreat for Vietnamese monastics across the country. All of the guests stay in the temple by setting up bunk beds in the Dharma hall and other rooms. They also host a youth retreat to the Blue Cliff Monastery in Upstate New York during the summer.
Distinctive Aspects: This temple’s deep focus on Youth Engagement and Education stands out, with a 55+ member youth group. The temple has also established a significant online presence, with 1000+ subscribers on their Youtube channel, where recordings of weekly services are posted.
Future: Currently the Temple has no plans to expand their space. They are focusing on the quality of the current youth group and religious services they provide. If the size of the congregation or youth group grows significantly, the temple leaders would be open to expansion or to renting a separate space for educational programs.
Notes for Visitors: Chùa Tường Vân’s doors are open everyday starting at 6:00 AM until around 9:00 PM. Visiting at any time in that window is welcome, but attending designated service times is recommended. These times would be 6-8 AM in the morning, Saturday from 1-5 PM, and Wednesday at 7 PM.
It is customary to remove one’s shoes when entering the temple. Robes are available to wear during meditation. Bringing monetary donations or fruit for offerings is a wonderful way to show generosity.
Contact: Tham Tran, Youth Group Leader, Temple Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
Researcher Name & Date Submitted: Loulou Sloss and Melissa Damasceno, Phillips Academy students, 5 May 2022