DANG Nguyen has fulfilled his childhood dream of becoming a priest.
The Vietnamese 34-year-old, who joined the Augustinian order and moved to study in Australia a decade ago, reached the milestone event when Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge ordained him at St James’ Church, Coorparoo, on September 22.
“I was overjoyed. Being able to fulfil my dream and to see how God is working through my life,” Fr Nguyen said.
A day later he celebrated Mass in the parish – not one but two Masses – first in English, then in his native language for Brisbane’s Vietnamese community.
“This wonderful gift I have received from the Lord,” Fr Nguyen said.
“And then seeing how many people turned up for Mass. And I’ve been waiting so long to say Mass. It was so wonderful.
“I was very happy that my parents were able to come here, and also my grand-uncle and uncle from the US as well, and relatives from all over Australia.”
After growing up in a village 400km from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Fr Nguyen joined the Augustinians in 2008.
He had earlier spent some time in a minor seminary.
The Augustinians do not have a presence in Vietnam, however the order’s Australian province was looking to recruit Vietnamese students to become priests, and so Fr Nguyen came to study in Australia.
The Augustinians hope to one day set up a mission house in Vietnam, and Fr Nguyen is part of the order’s long-term plans.
“We need to register through one of the dioceses in Vietnam first and then we have to get the permission of the government as well – it’s a communist country – so it’s a long way to go,” he said.
“But we hope in the next two or three years to have a community there and as long as we’ve got the permission of the government we’ll be able to work it out.”
In the meantime Fr Nguyen said he would continue his service working in St James’ parish.