I come from Vietnam and was born in a Catholic family. I was baptised when I was only two days old! My name, Kinh, was chosen for me because it means a person who is a good example for others. This is what I hope to be.
From an early age, I have always seen Jesus as my friend and Saviour. Many times, He is my teacher, but He is more than that. He is also my friend, and He asks me to follow him. This is how my journey
to priesthood began.
When I was a teenager, I wanted to be a builder and spent two years working as a brick layer. Then one day, at the Lunar New Year festivities, I met my cousin who is a religious priest. I remember watching him at the altar during Mass and thinking that he looked very holy. In our village we have always had great respect for the priest. He is seen as a good model to follow.
We started talking about his life as a priest, and how he experienced his vocation. Finally, he asked me, “Would you like to become a priest?” My immediate answer was “no!” I said no because in my mind, to be a priest you needed to be a very intelligent and holy man. I thought, “I’m not intelligent, and I am not holy”. I went back home but found that my cousin’s question still bothered me.
So, one day I jokingly said to my parents that I might consider priesthood. To my surprise, they were happy and encouraged me to give it a try! At that moment I decided to check it out and see if I could join a religious order in Vietnam. But it was a longer journey than I had expected.
After my quick decision, I discovered that there were many obstacles and difficulties. Many times, I felt that I was not good enough. Through the encouragement of friends and other people who reminded me that Jesus loves me, I was able to continue.
Discovering my vocation is more about discovering Jesus’ love for me, rather than about me being good enough for him. God can speak to us through other people, but most of all he speaks to us when we pray. I needed to learn how to spend time with Jesus in prayer and listen to his voice.
My journey took unexpected turns. I first entered the seminary to join a religious order, the SVDs. It turned out that it was not the right place for me. I decided to leave, and for a while I really didn’t know what to do with my life. It was a very hard time for me. I sought the advice of some priests I know, and they suggested that I keep asking God for direction and in the meantime, do something that is good for my future.
I thought about giving it all up and being a normal person – to get married and have a family, to have a job and enjoy life with my friends. But somehow, I still believed that I was meant to become a priest and I kept coming back to that thought. I had to find courage to persevere, to follow Jesus and keep believing that God would lead me in the right way.
I decided to learn English, although I had no idea that I would end up in New Zealand studying for the priesthood! It was a big decision for me to come to this country, I didn’t know how life would be here, but God gave me courage. I am now in my third year at Holy Cross Seminary in Auckland, and one day I hope to be a priest in Wellington Archdiocese.