Fr Khoi Doan Nguyen says there have been a few big mysteries in his life; one is how he came to be a priest when he had originally planned to marry.
The other was how he came to write two books after doing poorly at literature at school.
It’s been a big year for the new Missionary of the Sacred Heart (MSC) priest who was ordained by Sydney auxiliary Bishop Terry Brady at Our Lady of Mt Carmel Church at Bonnyrigg on 8 September.
Fr Khoi had been serving as a deacon at Our Lady of the Rosary, Kensington, and will be an assistant priest there before a move to Melbourne next year to serve as his order’s director of the pre-novitiate.
He has just published his second book, the first in English.
A Quiet Place Within: Contemplations from the heart published by Coventry Press is a short collection of spiritual reflections and poems written between January 2013 and November 2017.
The former finance and IT specialist said he had a very clear call to the priesthood around nine years ago while visiting Vietnam with his now ex-girlfriend and doing charity work in a rural area in the country’s south.
“I was thinking of getting engaged at the end of that year. But I came back with a very strong feeling that God was not calling me to marriage but to serve God and people as a priest,” he said.
After attending a retreat at Douglas Park run by Fr Chris McPhee MSC in 2010 he had “no doubt” he was meant to join the order.
Subsequently “something unfolded” in him during the time he had for reflection and prayer, and he began to write short reflections on faith and then poetry.
Fr Khoi’s relatives and friends, the Vietnamese community, Kensington parishioners, members of the MSC, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Chevalier communities attended his ordination at his family’s home parish in Bonnyrigg.
Concelebrating his ordination Mass were three members of the MSC’s Rome-based general administration; the superior general, Fr Abzalon Tabor, and assistant generals, Frs Chris Chaplin and Humberto Da Silva, along with the Australian provincial Fr McPhee.
Bishop Brady said Fr Khoi is a “a fine young priest with a spirituality of the heart”.
Kensinton parish priest Fr Alo Lamere MSC said that Fr Khoi’s ordination was “a great blessing and a special gift for us at a time when it is hard to get vocations to the priesthood”.
Fr Khoi migrated to Australia with his family from Vietnam in 2005 and has special interest in theology, spirituality and social justice.
As a priest he said he is most looking forward to being with people, celebrating with them the highlights of their lives and serving them in any way that he can.