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Thursday, 29 April 2021 16:35

Postulants wait in trust and hope for borders to reopen


Christopher Boss suit 550Imagine if you felt God called you to explore the possibility of becoming a Divine Word Missionary, but then a global pandemic meant you had to wait more than a year to fulfill that calling?

That’s exactly what happened to Christopher (Boss) Hiranrattanajinda Bhumbodin from Thailand and Aaron Ong from Brunei, who were both poised to enter the SVD AUS Province postulancy program last year when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of international borders.

Boss says he feels both frustrated and at peace about having to wait to enter SVD life.

“I understand that it is because of the pandemic, so I feel at peace with what is happening,” he says. “What I am saying is that I cannot control the situation, but I can control my mind and my focus. That is why I feel at peace.”

While he waits for the borders to reopen, Boss is learning English at the British Council Centre in Bangkok to assist in applying for a visa to enter Australia when he is able to.

He says that this period of waiting has taught him some valuable lessons in terms of his vocational calling.

“Trusting in God’s providence helps me to walk through this tough time and to look forward. My faith and my call are fulfilled and strengthened by God who gives me patience and perseverance,” he says.

Boss is staying close to the SVD community in Bangkok and says the confreres are helping him to stay focused and connected.

“It’s wonderful and fantastic,” he says. “Community life helps me to understand the SVD life and mission, especially at parish churches and learning about Vietnamese people and culture in Thailand.

“It is not only that, but I am guided and formed both directly and indirectly by Fathers Truong, Linh, John, Anthony and others in how to be and how to live as an SVD. I appreciate it.”

He says he’s looking forward to the borders reopening and being able to move forward with his SVD formation.

“By God’s grace, I look forward to being transformed to be a good and helpful SVD. Moreover, I would like to learn more about SVD community life and how to live with people from different countries and cultures. I am ready to move forward.”

Aaron Ong 450Aaron is currently teaching part time at a private college in his home country of Brunei which offers diplomas and degrees. He also freelances as a private tutor.

“The plan was originally to freelance as a private tutor until I go off to Dorish Maru College (in Melbourne) to start my postulancy,” he says.

“However, with the closed borders, I decided to teach part time at the private college to fill my time with productive work.

“Last semester I taught diploma program subjects in Financial Reporting and Business Accounting. This semester I am teaching Business Decision Making, Revenue Management, Financial Control and Financial Management at Diploma level.”

Aaron says the uncertainty of when he will be able to take up the postulancy program has been stressful because of the state of limbo he is in.

“Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me and it’s easy to go into a negative spiral,” he says. “There were times that doubts crept in and I fell into despair.

“Thankfully, the churches are open and I can go there to pray and attend daily Mass if my schedule permits.

“I knew that I needed to answer the calling of God and yet at the same time there is this massive invisible barrier that is there blocking my passage. Maybe it is God’s way of reminding me of the passage from Luke 13:24, ‘Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter, and shall not be able’.

“Being a postulant shouldn’t be easy after all!”

Aaron says the delayed start to his postulancy has taught him the value of perseverance and faith.

“The faith journey is not a linear one where everything is lined up perfectly. There will be challenges along the way. It is normal to experience this rollercoaster set of emotions, although I must admit I didn’t expect this when I signed up for the postulancy/novitiate.”

Aaron keeps in regular touch with the Director of Postulants for the SVD AUS Province, Fr Bill Burt SVD, along with Vocations Coordinator Fr Yon Wiryono SVD and Provincial, Fr Asaeli Rass SVD.

“A few weeks ago, Fr Yon invited me to a Zoom Vocation Talk. It was nice to interact with everyone and exchange notes with Fr Yon,” he says.

“I look forward to seeing my fellow postulants/novices, Shehan and Boss in the flesh, as well as my wonderful spiritual director Fr Bill. He has been a worthy spiritual director, an understanding and empathetic person. Truly exceptional. I’m blessed to have him on my vocation journey.”


TOP RIGHT: Christopher (Boss) Hiranrattanajinda Bhumbodin from Thailand.

BOTTOM LEFT: Aaron Ong from Brunei.