The SVD AUS Province is to receive a new member as soon as the pandemic allows, with Fr Tommy Lehan SVD due to take up a mission assignment in Thailand.
Fr Tommy was born in Boas, Indonesia in 1990 and raised in Atambua, the main city of the Belu district.
He joined the SVD in August 2009 and attended St Joseph’s Novitiate in Atambua, taking his first vows on August 15, 2011. He took his perpetual vows in Ledalero on August 15, 2017 and was ordained to the priesthood in October last year.
The AUS Province is his first missionary assignment.
“The reason why I chose the Australia Province, especially Thailand, is because I want to work with people with HIV/AIDS, to serve them, and to make them know that God never leaves them and God loves them,” he says.
The Thailand District of the SVD AUS Province is heavily involved with ministry to people affected by HIV/AIDS.
The Society of the Divine Word was invited by the Bishop of Udon Thani in 1998 to take carriage of the fledgling AIDS centre. Since that time, the Centre has been assisting babies and young children of HIV and poor families in Nong Bua Lamphu. The program started with assisting about 40 children and has grown into helping almost 400 people each year. The Centre’s outreach program includes an AIDS Education and Awareness Program, which goes out to around 20 schools each year. The SVD ministry includes the Ban Mae Marie Home for Teenagers which began as a home to care for orphans of AIDS but has now been opened up to for care of non-HIV-related teenagers and the elderly.
Fr Tommy says that while the coronavirus pandemic has delayed his arrival in Thailand, he is keeping busy in Ledalero while he waits.
“I’m staying at our SVD community in Ledalero,” he says.
“I have some activities to do, like sports, listening to music, working in the garden, and having Mass with the seminarians in their units.”
Fr Tommy will also be joined by Fr Baku Salu Yanarius SVD who is also assigned to the AUS Province and will arrive as soon as the pandemic restrictions allow.
TOP RIGHT: Fr Tommy working in a coconut garden during the pandemic period.
BOTTOM LEFT: Fr Tommy celebrates Mass online.