The idea of becoming a priest came to Luke Thien Quoc Huynh very early in life, but it wasn’t until he attended an Open Day at the Diocese of Parramatta’s Holy Spirit Seminary that the path forward in his vocation began to fall into place.
Luke, who is now in his third year of formation, says his involvement in the Church began during his childhood in Vietnam.
“The idea of becoming a priest came to me very early,” he says. “My mother told me that when I was in Year five of primary school in Vietnam, the teacher asked me to draw a picture from my dreams and I drew a church, with me there. So, I had the image of the priest and the church as well.”
Later, Luke moved to Sydney as a student and continued practising his faith, serving his Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement community as a youth leader while completing a Bachelor of Accounting. But everything changed when he attended a Holy Spirit Seminary Open Day in 2018.
“After attending the Diocese of Parramatta ‘Come and See’ vocations event, there was a desire which burned in my heart, to join the Holy Spirit Seminary,” he says.
“I remember I sat in front of brother Matthew Dimian (whom I can now call in joyfulness, Fr Matthew). We had a great conversation and shared our stories. He inspired me by answering my abundant, curious questions and this set a fire in my thoughts to discover more about my vocation.”
After graduation, Luke worked for a year in the Diocese of Parramatta finance team before entering the seminary, a time he now sees as valuable formation ahead of his decision to enter the seminary.
“During that time working with different Churches and groups in the Diocese, I always said to myself, I’m serving my brothers and sisters in God’s family,” he says.
“That’s why I always remind myself that my vocation starts from God and is nourished by God’s people here. And I always thank God for all their goodness, the goodness and kindness of other people who I see in my life in this Diocese.
“I recognised that my true inner peace, joy, and happiness were rooted in the service of God’s people. It was here I found my journey – my calling.”
Entering the Holy Spirit Seminary gave Luke an even deeper appreciation of his relationship with the people of God.
“The seminary gave me a sense of belonging to God and to His people. For me, it’s very important, because without this sense of belonging, I think I cannot survive in this vocation or in this training.”
Seminary life also presents challenges, which can be a path to growth, he says.
“I think God gives me more challenges to develop myself, to be more happy, to forgive more, and to have more love in my relationship with God and others.
“The seminary is the place helping me to become more mature in human dignity, spirituality, relationships, and pastoral charity.”
When not busy with his studies, Luke enjoys playing table tennis and the guitar, and sharing time with people.
He says the support from parishioners is crucial in forming seminarians for a life of priestly service.
“I would like to say with all my heart, thank you to all parishioners across the Diocese for supporting me and my brothers towards our call. You are part of our journey to be a servant of God and his people. Your footprints are always in our hearts,” he says.
“We thank you for all your support and always pray with thanksgiving to God for everything we receive. We give praise to God and pray for you all.”
It’s in the Holy Spirit Seminary and the heart of our parishes that they are formed for this faithful service to our community, answering the special call from God that each of them has had, to join the priesthood and live their lives as His devoted disciples.
Parramatta Catholic Foundation’s Bishop’s Good Shepherd Appeal is raising funds to help the Holy Spirit Seminary in Harris Park prepare men who have been called by God to become priests, like Luke.
Vice-Rector of Holy Spirit Seminary, Fr John Frauenfelder, says that by contributing to support the seminarians, the people of the Diocese have a share in the work of formation.
“The formative part of it is the work of the whole Diocese and the parishes in which (the seminarians) are placed,” he says. “Everyone in that parish is in the work of formation and working with us, in forming these guys to be the best kind of servants of God’s people in the parishes of the Diocese of Parramatta.”