I grew up in the Dong Nai province in Vietnam. When I was a child my father was very sick. He smoked a lot and this caused problems with his lungs.
My mother asked my five sisters, brother and myself to go to church to pray for him. I thought if I joined a convent and became a nun I would be closer to God and I would have a lot of time to pray for my father to get well. So
I joined the Dominican sisters in 1992 when I was 18 but after two years my father died. I was really sad. I wanted to leave the convent and return to my family. In time, I realised that everybody has to die.
Now my father could bless my family and he would always be beside me. I also liked the mission of the congregation and wanted to be like St Dominic because he helped poor people everywhere. I decided to stay and took my final vows in 2003.
My congregation ran a boarding school for children from broken families and I worked there as an assistant teacher from 2004 to 2009. During this time I also studied theology for two years.
After that I went to Australia and studied English for nearly one year. During this time I lived in Darwin and stayed with two Australian Dominican sisters. After school I would have to go home and speak only in English which helped me to learn the language.
Once my studies were finished I returned to my convent in Vietnam.
I did not return to work at the boarding school. Instead, my Superior asked me to work as a formator (supervisor of the formation of aspirants) in 2010.
That meant I was put in charge of the young girls who just wanted to try life in the convent. I took care of about 60 aspirants with the assistance of another sister. I did this job for one and a half years. It was hard but the aspirants loved me.
They would come to my room and share their problems. I always made time to give them advice.
Sometimes the problem was to do with their teaching in the school. At other times they had just arrived in the convent and were homesick. Alternatively, an aspirant might be uncertain about her vocation. I remember one told me she was unsure whether or not to stay at the convent.
I told her to take her time as she had just come to the convent and was missing her family. I asked her to stay for a month because by then she would have made friends and would know about life in the convent. I encouraged her to go to the chapel in her spare time and talk to God.
He would tell her what to do. In the end, half a year passed and when I asked the same girl if she wanted to leave the convent she said, “No!” I would do whatever I could to help the Aspirants and after that I would give them to God.
Then my Superior asked me to return to Australia in 2012 to work for three years.When I have finalised all the arrangements to permit me to work (such as a police clearance certificate) I will assist parents with homeschooling through Wanslea Family Services.
In the meantime, as a Dominican sister I go out into the community and help people. If people tell me their problems I talk to God about them. For instance, I met a woman in Northbridge who was a single mum with two children aged five and three.
Her daughter is ill and her husband has returned to Vietnam and now has another girlfriend. The woman was very sad and asked me to pray for her. I really love her family and always ask God to help them and make them strong.
God is very merciful and knows the needs of everyone. I believe he will help her and a miracle will happen. If her situation does not get better now, it will improve in the future – even if it is just that her sadness is lifted and she feels confident and empowered.
I know that I made the right choice to be a Dominican sister. I really want to share with others my experience and knowledge. Through my vocation I can do a lot of the things that I dreamed of doing – like teaching and helping the poor.
To be a Dominican nun or Dominican priest you have to talk with God and talk about him to others.