A Vietnamese Bishop, priests, relatives and the Perth Catholic Vietnamese community turned out in force to support Carmelite nun Sr Quynh Mary of the Most Holy Trinity as she made her solemn profession at the Carmelite Monastery chapel, Nedlands, on Saturday, August 18, before Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB and concelebrating priests.
Bishop Paul Bui van Doc, Bishop of May Tho in Vietnam, Sr Quynh’s older brother Fr John Nguyen and many priests of the Archdiocese concelebrated the Mass of Thanksgiving with Archbishop Costelloe.
Her mother, sister, niece, a priest who is her cousin – Fr Joseph Khanh – and Fr Joseph from Denver, Colorado, all visited Perth for the special occasion, along with other Vietnamese priests and relatives.
Perth Vietnamese religious sisters, many parishioners and friends of Nedlands Carmel were also present.
In his introduction, Archbishop Costelloe said: “It is all about Sr Quynh. It is wonderful to reflect on all the wonderful things that God gives us.”
In his homily, Archbishop Costelloe said that he was reflecting on the readings that Sr Quynh had chosen for the celebration and was struck by the line in Mary’s Song of Praise, the Magnificat, which was used as the responsorial psalm.
“In that song Mary speaks of the Almighty who has done great things for her. I’m sure that Sr Quynh can echo the same words as she reflects on the ways in which God has been present in her life, calling her to follow him,” he said.
“I found myself also reflecting on the words of psalm 16 . . . which I think might speak very directly today to you, Sr Quynh, on this special day.
In that psalm, the writer asks this question: ‘How can I repay the Lord for his goodness to me?’
“Sr Quynh . . . I would encourage you and all your Sisters, to make this prayer and this question your own.
“The gift of a religious vocation is a precious one, not given to all, and certainly not better than any other, but for those who are called, like you, it is the pathway to deep joy, peace and contentment.
“The example of faith, courage and fidelity which you are offering us today is inspiring and encourages us on our journey.
“The answer to the psalmist comes immediately: ‘The cup of salvation I will raise and I will call on the Lord’s name.’”
The Archbishop continued: “These words point us to the Eucharist – the Eucharist we are celebrating today, the Eucharist we celebrate so often when we gather together as a community of faith – and also of course the Eucharist which is the daily living out of our lives of faith and fidelity.
“The more the Lord becomes present to us and in us, and we to him and in him, the more we are able to see with his eyes, to listen with his ears, to love with his heart. It is his love that counts, and ours only in so far as it shares in his love, and reflects his love to others.
“This is true for you who live the enclosed contemplative life as it is for those who live a more active apostolic life.
“Today, in our presence and much more importantly in God’s presence, Sr Quynh makes the vows to live in obedience, chastity and poverty. And of course, this life of poverty, obedience and chastity is a life lived in imitation of Jesus.”
“(Sr Quynh) will live this new life with her Sisters, and for all those whom God entrusts to her prayer … Thank you for the gift of your life which today you make to God, to his Church, to this religious community, and to all of us.
“We assure you of our gratitude, our admiration and our continued prayers that what God today has begun in you, God will continually bring to fulfilment in your life,” Archbishop Costelloe said.
The Prioress, Sr Sesimani, pinned the black veil on Sr Quynh, replacing her former white veil.
Hymns were sung in Vietnamese and Nhi Tran, 19, Sr Quynh’s niece from Vietnam, read the second reading in Vietnamese. Linh Nuong and friends were responsible for the beautiful flowers.
The cantor was parishioner Mary Creed and the choir was from the Vietnamese community.
Sr Quynh, 35, was born in Dalat in Vietnam on July 3rd, 1977, to Peter Nguyen, a farmer, and his wife Therese. Her father is now very sick, she told The Record in an interview at the Monastery earlier last week.
“My Dad prayed that he would live till I was professed,” Sr Quynh said, “and he still prays for all of us.”
She has three brothers and four sisters and is the youngest and fifth girl and the first nun in the family.
“St Therese, the Little Flower, inspired me to be a nun when I was about nine – I always chose to be a Carmelite since catechism classes taught by Sisters of the Love of the Cross.”
Sr Quynh has been six years in the Nedlands Monastery on August 16.
Another Vietnamese nun, Sr Thanh Bui, was professed in 2011.
Sr Quynh passed her English exam and became an Australian citizen on May 28 in Nedlands.
Her formation has consisted of one year as a postulant, two years as a novice, and three years living under temporary vows.
Since 2006, she has joined in the life and work at the Nedlands Monastery and has had a lot of help from the Vietnamese community and Fr Francis Ly, Parish Priest at Lockridge.
“Fr Hong Pham, too, has been a great help from the time I first came to Australia,” she said.