Fr Francis returns to St Charles Seminary as Rector

14 Jun 2023

By Contributor

By Fr Francis Huy Nguyen

St Charles Seminary New Rector
Fr Francis Huy Nguyen, third from left, with the 2023 Class of Seminarians, next to the statue of St Charles Borromeo. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.

I was born on the 18 September 1971 in Song Be Vietnam during the final phase of the Vietnam War, the fifth of seven children to my parents, Huong Nguyen and Phuong Dinh.

Dad was an army and defence serviceman for the Republic of South Vietnam and was later placed in a series of Communist Regime’s Re-education Camps.

After his release, Dad was fortunate to make a successful escape in 1984 and eventually settled in Australia in 1985.

Mum was a full-time stay-at-home parent and sadly, passed away early at the age of 41 in 1982 from heart disease. Tragically, only two years prior, my younger sister also died in a tragic accident at the age of two.

Thanks to my relatives, close family friends and my older siblings who had stopped school to care for all of us, I spent most of my childhood in a small village called Binh Gia, commencing my education at the local Tan Duc Primary and Middle School where I completed Year 1 to Year 9.

Fr Francis in action at the 2023 annual Clerec West Sports Day. Photo: Fr Kenneth Acosta.

I was fortunate to continue my education from Year 10 onwards at the newly established Nguyen Du District High School, just five kilometres away in Ngai Giao, completing Year 12 in 1989, before taking a gap year to work and support my family.

The local Vinh Chau Parish in Nghi Loc was a significant and vibrant hub of prayers, devotions, Masses, catechesis, social groups, youth formation programs and activities where I received the Sacraments of Reconciliation, First Holy Eucharist and Confirmation.

It has had a huge and lasting influence on my spiritual upbringing and outlook.

By divine providence, I was eventually allowed to migrate and re-joined Dad in Australia on 7 November 1990 at the age of 19.

I spent some time studying English as a second language and began the lifelong process of integration into a new culture and life. I went on to complete Year 11 and 12 at Swanbourne Senior High School in 1993.

Fr Francis, first from left, is presented an award at the 2023 Clerec West annual Sports Day dinner. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.

After some time of discernment about my vocation to the priesthood, I was accepted as a Pre-Seminarian at St Charles’ Seminary Guildford while I was pursuing a Computer and Engineering Degree at Curtin University of Technology.

I began my formal seminary training the following year and went on to complete my priestly formation and was ordained a Deacon and eventually a Priest for the Archdiocese of Perth on the 15 December 2000.

Following my appointments at Willetton-Brentwood, the Goldfields (Kalgoorlie, Boulder, Coolgardie, Kambalda and Norseman), Bencubbin (Mukkinbudin, Beacon and Korda) and Ellenbrook, I was appointed as full-time chaplain to Royal Perth Hospital for five years.

During my time and ministry in the country parishes, I began my Postgraduate studies and completed a Master of Arts-Theological Studies at the University of Notre Dame Fremantle in 2009.

I returned to parish ministry in Port Kennedy before I was appointed as Vice-Rector to St Charles’ Seminary in March 2022.

Fr Francis with Archbishop Costelloe and newly ordained deacons Errol Lobo and Jason Yeap, Friday 17 February at Blessed Sacrament Church, Gosnells Parish. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.

Following my completion of a Seminary Formators Course in Rome, I was truly humbled by the appointment as the Rector in December 2022. I deeply appreciate the trust and confidence the Archbishop and his Curia have placed in me.

I am also grateful for the tremendous support I have received in the preparation and commencement of this new role.

In a strange and providential manner, I have returned to a familiar place, mindful of the many fond memories I had as a student as well the changes and new things that have taken place over the years.

I have found a greater sense of appreciation of the seminary, its beautiful location, history, traditions and what it can still offer to those men who are searching for a solid and clear assurance of their generous response to God’s call for them to be priests for the Church today.

In addition to my priestly ministry and professional development programs, I enjoy catching up with family, friends and (former) parishioners, playing sports, reading, listening to music, watching movies, fishing and gardening.