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It is with great sadness and heavy heart that I am saying goodbye to you over this weekend. Even though I will not leave here until December 28th, but as many of you will go away for holidays and the like, so we planned to have this farewell a bit early.
As I am looking back and reflecting on my time here – just around a year – I feel grateful and blessed with your presence, support and love for me over this short time. It has been a great joy being with you and serving you in my role of a deacon and now of a priest.
About three years ago, after taking my perpetual vows as a Missionary of the Sacred Heart, I went back to my home church with my Vietnamese community in Mt Pritchard, where I was ordained a priest recently. I remember the Gospel of that mass three years ago was the same Gospel we have this weekend: The people of Israel came and asked John the Baptist, “What must we do?” That question haunted me as I was sitting there, on the sanctuary as a brother, looking at the faces of so many of my Vietnamese people. “What must I do in order to serve these people better?” I questioned myself at that time.
Until now, I still question myself: “What must I do in order to serve you all better, as your priest and your brother?”
As I am leaving my first parish in my priestly ministry, I ask your forgiveness for the things I have not done well in my pastoral ministry and responsibility. For the things you have found graceful through what I have done, let us give thanks to our graceful and loving God.
I love what Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said: “I am a little pencil in God’s hands. He does the thinking. He does the writing. He does everything and sometimes it is really hard because it is a broken pencil and He has to sharpen it a little more.” I know that I am a mere broken pencil that God has endeavored so hard to make use of – but this is simply God’s joy, loving us, caring for us, and using us for others.
Please continue to support me in your prayers as I move to my next mission in Melbourne. I will also keep you very much in my heart with loving memories and kindness you have shown me.
Every blessing for your holidays, safe travel, and much love to you all.
Fr Khoi Nguyen msc
Come and join the OLSH Sisters for Christmas dinner at the Convent, 2 Kensington Rd Kensington, at 12 noon on Christmas Day. Phone Sr Helen or Sr Ancilla on 9662177 a few days before if you would like to join us.
Dear Parishioners of Our Lady of the Rosary Church,
We are delighted to invite you to see and purchase handmade religious articles made by the Sisters of St. Elisabeth Convent (Belarus). The exposition will take place after the Masses on Monday, December 24th.
The Sisterhood of Saint Elisabeth was founded in 1996. For more than 15 years our sisters have been rendering spiritual, social and financial support to the sick and the suffering at the National Psychiatric Clinic, the boarding home for children with special needs and mentally challenged adults, a TB clinic.
In recent years a rehabilitation center for the homeless, drug and alcohol addicts, ex-prisoners was established 20 miles away from the Convent. About 200 residents live here today. Many lost and struggling people get a chance to tackle their problems and start a new life with God. A rehabilitation facility for females was established in 2012. Women released from jail, the homeless and mentally challenged women stay there. Today there are 11 women and one toddler at this farmstead.
To help these people workshops were established on the grounds of the Convent. Many of these sick people have a possibility to express themselves in art for God working together with the nuns and sisters and making beautiful articles (hand painted icons, crosses, crucifixes, woodcarvings, embroidered and ceramic gifts, vestments).
All these goods are made with love and prayer and bring blessing to home. You will support many people in need by purchasing items of devotions for yourselves and your beloved ones.
With deep gratitude and love in Christ,
Sisters of St Elisabeth
Christmas edition then we enter the summer series until February.
Next week on The Journey, the Gospel reflection is from the Dioceses of Wollongong Advent reflection booklet, Sr Hilda shares her Wisdom from the Abbey with her Christmas reflection, Bruce Downes the Catholic Guy reminds us to be still before God, and The Pirolas encourage us to Make A Change For The Better. It is with great pleasure and gratitude that we say thank you for your support with Journey Catholic Radio for another year. God Bless, and Merry Christmas from all of us here at the Diocese of Wollongong . Go to WWW.jcr.org.au or www.itunes.jcr.org.au where you can listen anytime and subscribe to weekly shows by email.
Across Australia, Catholics are gathering to pray, talk and listen to one another about our experiences of faith and the Church. Many parishes within the Archdiocese have commenced their journey towards the Plenary Council 2020, sharing and reflecting on the future of the Catholic church in Australia. Please continue to pray for the community of the Sydney Archdiocese that we will respond well to the call of the Holy Spirit, by engaging in the preparatory phase of the Plenary with open and humble hearts, listening to what the Spirit is saying to each one of us as we share our experiences of faith towards the preparation of the agenda of the Plenary Council. The Plenary Council Prayer: http://plenarycouncil.catholic.org.au/pray/ Want to know more or on how to become involved, please contact 9390 5147 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
(2nd Sunday of Advent)
When I was in primary school, I played with my friends after school at the beach if there was no order from my parents to go to the farm. We had lots of fun with the kind of traditional way of surfing. However sometimes we ended up fighting. My dad told me that he allowed me to fight but never allowed me to cry after fighting. He said one day: “You should not fight with your friends. However, if there’s a time when you can’t avoid the fight, go for it but don’t cry, no tears at all. It’s your choice so don’t cry for help. Crying is the sign of a loser. I don’t want you to show that you are the loser”. The words of my father influenced my life for about thirty years. I was not able to cry for many years. I recall the last time I cried after that warning, was when I was nine. Then I cried again for the first time after that when I was thirty-seven. Am I a loser when I cry? Of course, I am not.
The words of my father remind me of people in our contemporary world marked by the thunder of competitions. Everyone would like to be number one. No one wants to become the loser. Becoming the loser creates shame and is a sign of incapability. I was touched by the words of Alexander Zverev. He is the youngest top ten in the world rank today. In the last ATP final after defeated world number one Novak Djokovic, he said: “Thank you Novak for letting me win today. I know that you are the best player in the world today, and you can win any title you want. However today, you let me win”. I watched the match and I don’t think that Alexander was given the winning. He played really well to win the title, and yet he humbly admired the world number one by saying that he allowed him to win.
John the Baptist was a humble man that played an important role in preparing for the coming of the Messiah. When he appeared to the public, he was so popular which made people think that he was the messiah. When they asked who he was, He did not refuse to confess, but openly declared, “I am not the Christ.” (John 1:20), He could have easily told people that he is the Christ, the messiah, since he was so popular. Some other time he said: “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). Is he a loser? Indeed, he is not.
This weekend and next weekend, we are continuously reflecting on the role of John the Baptist. He is the one that was prophesied by the prophet Isaiah: “Voice that cries in wilderness: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Luke 3:4). Many people think that when you are humble and let other people be the first, you are the loser. The life of John the Baptist has shown us that humility is not equal to being a loser.