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Novices overcome COVID challenges


Their novitiate year may not have gone exactly according to plan, but five Passionist novices were able to make their first profession at The Monastery earlier this month.

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Arriving in Melbourne in mid-2019 the men, all but one from the Vinh Diocese in central Vietnam, found themselves spending much of their formation in lockdown last year.

Their time, however, was put to good use attending intensive language classes and improving their English.

In January this year they were able to move to The Monastery at Urrbrae and it was with great joy and anticipation that they took their vows on July 10 in front of local parishioners, friends and all of the professed Passionist men and women in South Australia.

Speaking with The Southern Cross, the men said it was particularly difficult being so far from their families during the pandemic, especially when some elderly relatives had died and they had been unable to return for the funerals.

“It has been very difficult to live away from our families during COVID,” said Nguyen Van Cau, 32.

“We stay in contact with them through Zoom and the internet and if they have any problems it is really hard for us… but in our faith we keep moving ahead.”

The novices said they were grateful for the support received from Novice Master Br Larry Finn who came from Adelaide to join them in the Holy Cross Centre in Melbourne during lockdown.

“It was good to have someone supporting us on our journey and helping us to better understand the charism of the Passionists,” said Can Van Tri, 30.

All agreed that their backgrounds in Vietnam aligned closely with the Passionists’ charism ‘to challenge those things in our life and our culture that encourage self-interest and discourage awareness of God’.

Since arriving in Adelaide the men said they had enjoyed attending Mass a couple of times with the Vietnamese Catholic Community at Our Lady of the Boat People Church in Pooraka.

“We have missed being away from our people and our culture, so it was nice to hear Mass in Vietnamese,” said Cau.

The novices are now waiting to return to their home country where they will continue their theology studies.

While there are many young Vietnamese men discerning a vocation in the priesthood, they said the Passionists Order is “relatively new” in Vietnam and when they are ordained they will be among the first generation of Passionist priests to serve in the Vietnamese Church.


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