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Thai embarks on new faith journey


Born in a Thai refugee camp to Buddhist parents from Vietnam, Thai Le will embark on a new journey when he becomes a Catholic this Easter.

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After undertaking preparation through the Aberfoyle Park parish, Thai was one of 20 catechumens affirmed by Archbishop Patrick O’Regan at the Rite of Election ceremony last month, with a further six candidates unable to attend on the day.

He will receive the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and first Communion at the Easter Vigil in the Church of Nativity on Saturday April 16.

Named after the country where he was born in exile, Thai, 34, said converting to Catholicism has always been on his radar since a major health incident rocked his family.

“My mum suffered a severe stroke when I was a teenager and one of her closest friends is Catholic,” he said.

“What we saw during that time was not only the care that she provided, but also that she would visit regularly and pray for Mum.

“That opened our eyes to the Catholic faith… even in the darkest hours you can see who is going to be there for you.”

With the support of the Vietnamese Catholic Community, his parents and younger brother converted to Catholicism some years ago, but Thai didn’t feel it was the right time for him. However, now that he is older he said his understanding and attraction to the Christian faith continued to deepen.

“Becoming a Catholic has always been there – I went to Catholic schools all my life at St Bernadette’s and then Sacred Heart College – but I just didn’t get around to it,” he explained.

“I guess when I met my partner Vy, who is Catholic, that I thought this is the right time now, I am ready.”

The couple will be married in November and Thai said they both felt it was important to share their Christian faith and values with their future children.

Thai, who is a mobile banker and also runs Mr Le’s restaurant at Brighton, said while his life was very busy “you make time for things that are important”, so at the beginning of Advent last year he began preparation sessions with the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) process.

Church of the Nativity RCIA team members, Rene and Vee Pols and Serveh Dolatjavid, who converted from Islam in 2019, have guided Thai throughout the process.

“Everyone in the community has been so supportive and it’s such a great atmosphere here at Aberfoyle Park,” he said, adding that along the way he has asked “lots of questions” and come to understand the power of prayer.

“I do pray every night and that is important in my lifestyle now,” he said. “Traditionally, back in the days, I would pray when I needed something but now I pray to be grateful and to self-reflect.”

With Easter only a week away, Thai said he was “really looking forward to” receiving the sacraments but acknowledged this was just the next step in his faith journey.

“This is really the beginning…it will be exciting to be reborn that day.”

For more information about the RCIA process contact RCIA coordinator Kathy Horan or phone 8210 8288.


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