Dear friends

The COVID-19 pandemic has been around for more than six months now. I have been eagerly waiting for the end of the stage four lockdown in Victoria and then the end of the pandemic, but it seems that these milestones will never come. I have missed you all. I miss the church. I miss the people of God. I miss the many opportunities to celebrate the mystery of God in the Sacraments with God’s people. It has made me feel deeply sad. I can’t wait to see the end of this pandemic but it seems as if no one has any idea when this will happen. However, as Christians we are people of hope. Hence, I hope that the end of this dreadful pandemic will arrive sooner rather than later.

Amidst sadness and uncertainty, I would like to share with you joyful news for me as an Australian Jesuit. The Superior General of the worldwide Society of Jesus has just appointed Fr Dominic Quyen Vu SJ as the next Provincial Superior of Australia. The Australian Province is one of the many provinces of the Society of Jesus throughout the world. He will take up office on 1st January 2021. Fr Quyen, as he is known among his colleagues and friends, was born in Saigon and came as a refugee with his family to Australia when he was 10. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1994 and was ordained in 2004. He took final vows in 2014. His early tertiary studies were in Science, Theology and Education. He has been serving in Cambodia since 2015 and is currently Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education of the Jesuit Mission in Cambodia and Director of Xavier Jesuit School in Sisophon. He previously served in Timor Leste.

Knowing that Fr Quyen is finding his way back to Australia at the moment, I cannot avoid thinking about how the pandemic will make this a very onerous journey; the many challenges that await him in Australia in his new role; and, the wonderful ministry in education he leaves behind. My thoughts move from the school he helped establish during the last five years to many other schools and parishes in Cambodia. We all know that Cambodia is a very poor country, so most of the schools and parishes in Cambodia are poor, too. It would be wonderful if they can receive some assistance from their well-off counterparts elsewhere in the world. Then my thoughts go to our Parish. It would be nice if we, as a Parish, could help one of those schools or parishes. To be concrete, maybe after coming out of the pandemic we could adopt a school or a parish in Cambodia and offer them our support. I am sure Fr Quyen would be able to help us identify a school or parish with particular needs. Despite being in the middle of the pandemic with its disappointment and uncertainty, this idea has brought joy to my heart.

The pandemic has created havoc in our lives in so many ways, including preventing us from seeing our families and friends, but we can still think about other people and ways to reach out to them in our dreams and hopes and prayers.

Let us pray for one another that it pleases God to keep us safe and that the end of the pandemic will come soon. I look forward to seeing you before long.

May God bless us all

Huy Nguyen SJ
Parish Priest