Born and raised on the Mekong Delta river in South Vietnam, Fr Long Nguyen SVD could have ended up a businessman, but instead he chose to become a missionary priest and he is looking forward to taking up his first assignment, in Australia.
It’s not Fr Long’s first time in Australia though. He spent a year here in 2012 as part of his training with the Divine Word Missionaries, as well as a year in Thailand, and he couldn’t wait to come back.
Reflecting on his vocation to mark National Vocations Awareness Week in Australia, Long says he grew up in a faithful Catholic family and at a young age he developed a dream of becoming a priest.
“During my childhood, I would set out to finish studying, complete my household chores and help with the family business as quickly as possible each day so I could attend the Eucharistic celebration,” he says.
“I went to Church every day and it made me happy.”
Another thing that made Long happy was business. After working in his family’s business as he grew older, he began to dream more of a life in business than the priesthood.
After studying at the University of Saigon, his elder sister, who was a nun of the Lovers of the Holy Cross reminded him about his dream of being a priest and persisted in gently reminding him as time went on.
Eventually, he knew the time had come to make a choice between priesthood or business, so he began praying a novena and committed to listening to God’s will over those nine days.
“On the eighth day, my uncle, who was a religious person and had never contacted me before, phoned me and said: ‘The Divine Word Missionaries are having an entrance exam in a month. If you are still inspired in the vocation, you should come and see.
“At the time, I thought that was God’s will. That was the way God called me to become a missionary.”
Long joined the SVD in 2007 and took his first vows in 2010. He was ordained to the priesthood in December 2018 in Saigon and, remembering his wonderful experience in Australia as an SVD student, he made it his top choice for his first missionary assignment.
He arrived in Melbourne last year and has been studying English and working in the Preston Parish.
Long was to take up his first assignment in the SVD AUS Province earlier this year at St Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Marsden, Brisbane, but the COVID-19 pandemic put a hold on that. Now that the Queensland borders are open again, Long is expected to take up his assignment soon.
He says he’s looking forward to getting to know the people in his new parish and really immersing himself in the local culture.
“I know that working in a new culture is not easy and I am still working at the language, but those are the challenges for any missionary,” he says.
“I know that God always blesses, accompanies and supports me on my way. God has a plan for me.”
PHOTO: Fr Long Nguyen SVD pictured in his home country of Vietnam. Fr Long is about to take up his first parish assignment in the AUS Province.