By Natashya Fernandez
Father Peter Toan Nguyen OP was recently farewelled at Doubleview Parish as he moves on to take over as Parish Priest at Camberwell Parish, St Dominic’s Catholic Church, Melbourne.
Following a nine-year stint as Parish Priest at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Fr Nguyen left the parish in the capable hands of new Parish Priest Fr Peter Hoang, who came from Sydney and has settled in quite well.
The farewell took place at the Church grounds on 27 August among the Dominican Sisters and many parishioners who wished him well and shared stories about Fr Nguyen and his contribution to the parish.
With a heart from both preaching the Gospel and walking alongside those searching for God in their lives, Fr Nguyen said that although he was saddened to leave Doubleview Parish, he is ready to take on his new role in Melbourne.
“After nine years of my journey with the Doubleview Parish, I was sad in leaving it. The parishioners’ friendship and cooperation have become part of my life.
“Through all the ups and downs, I have seen the parish grow and was very much a part of the building of the parish centre and presbytery. It is a pleasure to see the parish in a good condition now. That encourages me to move on to wherever I am sent by the superiors.
“I remain steadfast to my vocation and I welcome Fr Hoang as the new Parish Priest,” Fr Nguyen said.
Parish Council Chair Kevin Susai recalled Fr Nguyen as a resilient, generous, humble, frugal and patient man.
“Fr Nguyen came to Australia as a refugee from Vietnam and endured many hardships on his journey here. It was the catalyst to him answering God’s call to the priesthood.
“He was the first Vietnamese Dominican priest to be ordained at St Dominic’s Catholic Church, Camberwell, Melbourne in 1991.
“Fr Nguyen’s decision to devote his life to God and the community has been our gain as he is now one our most experienced parish priests.
Mr Susai added that Fr Nguyen never forgot his roots and every year would take his annual vacation to Vietnam to support the marginalised.
“One of his ongoing missions is to support an isolated village, run by Dominican Sisters, for those affected by leprosy. With donations from this Parish and others he arranges transport and delivers food and clothes to the residents. And more recently he initiated a project to supply clean water to save residents from walking long distances to fetch water from a river, Mr Susai said.
Reminiscing about Fr Nguyen’s tenure as Parish Priest at Our Lady of the Rosary since 2009, Mr Susai said it wasn’t a smooth road but that didn’t stop Fr Nguyen from being steadfast to his vow.
While he endured many challenges which included a make-shift office in the sacristy, looking for a house and running the parish single-handedly, Mr Susai said he performed his tasks diligently without complaining.
“It was a God-send when Fr Nguyen was offered a place by the Dominican Sisters at St Catherine’s Convent behind the Church. It was a very happy moment for Fr Nguyen.
After almost a decade in Perth, Mr Susai said that Fr Nguyen will now have time to spend with his family Melbourne, especially with his 93-year old father.
“Even though Fr Nguyen has had ups and downs, he never surrendered. He stood by his faith and vocation. His loyalty and commitment to our Parish has been profound. With his guidance and support, The Coffee Shop now called St Dominic’s room has been refurbished, the facade surrounding the Church has been replaced, the Parish Centre is being built, and our finance is healthy.
“More importantly, he has fervently administered the Sacraments and helped build a cohesive parish community. We congratulate him for leaving the Parish in an excellent positon for the future.
“We thank him for his services. May God bless him and provide him the wisdom, grace and strength to continue in his vocation in Melbourne,” Mr Susai added.