St Charles Seminary Enquiry Day blessed with full attendance

09 May 2024

By The Record

St Charles Seminary Enquiry Day
The grounds of St Charles Seminary were last week filled with more than 25 men who were interested in finding out more about the vocational journey into ordained ministry. Photo: Supplied.

The grounds of St Charles Seminary were last week filled with more than 25 men who were interested in finding out more about the vocational journey into ordained ministry.

Responses came from all over Perth, and even as far as Geraldton and Margaret River.

The day saw Rector Fr Francis Nguyen and Vice-Rector Fr Joseph Laundy and the St Charles seminarians hosting their guests starting with Holy Hour and Mass before a delicious brunch was served and enjoyed at the seminary’s communal dining area, accompanied by conversations and laughter.

Fr Francis and Fr Joe then invited everyone to gather as they share their own vocational journey before inviting attendees to ask questions, many of which centered around how to listen and answer God’s call and life as a priest.

Introducing the Transcendentals – Truth, Goodness and Beauty

At the Enquiry Day, Fr Joe Laundy shared his observation that one of the ways to find out what society is looking for in life is to visit a bookstore; you will find all the bestsellers about happiness, love and fulfillment.

Happiness is big business, Fr Joe explained, comedians will fill stadiums full of people who are looking for happiness and laughter in that fleeting one hour show.

They offer people happiness. But he asked those present, what, as a future (God-willing) priest, can you offer? More importantly, what can God offer to others through you?

Fr Joe explained that in the Catholic tradition, the lenses of truth, goodness, and beauty -referred to as the three Transcendentals – have for centuries helped people experience God across time and culture. and are reflective of the support that God gives us when it comes to finding meaning in our lives.

Allow others, Fr Joe explained to see the Truth of God in you, to see the beauty of God in what you believe, to experience the Goodness of God in your actions.

At the heart of this tradition is the mystery of the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, who is, as the Bible proclaims, “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6).

Guests heard the experiences of Rector, Fr Francis Nguyen. Photo: Supplied.

Discerning questions from attendees

Attendees of the Enquiry Day asked important and self-introspective questions of Fr Joe and Fr Francis that are applicable to all forms of vocations beyond ordained ministry.

Question: what are the next steps from today’s Enquiry Day if we want to continue our journey into ordained ministry?

Answer: Fr Joe answered this question by advising that discernment is a process of continually listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. He advised for those who would like to discover more and receive support for listening to God’s call to get in touch with and have these important discussions with their parish priest, with the Vocations Office, and other members of the clergy. No matter the outcome, by doing so, you develop and are enriched by wholesome Catholic relationships.

Fr Francis reiterated Fr Joe’s words and added that those discerning should not be strangers to the seminary and can also visit and be in touch to ask questions and have these discussions with the kind and generous seminarians.

Question: “If you haven’t felt a calling how do you know God is calling you to priesthood?

Answer: Fr Francis shared his insight by saying that to discern a calling to priesthood, pay attention to signs from others who see qualities in you, like wisdom, kindness, generosity, and faithfulness. Reflect on what aspects of priesthood appeal to you, such as the lifestyle, the ministry, or the witness a priest could give. Look into your heart to find out your deepest desires, aspirations, and dreams and how they might resonate with the ideals of priesthood. Consider if you are willing to dedicate your life to serving others and if your interests align with priestly duties and services. It is not about giving up everything but integrating one’s life for God’s purpose and maintaining personal well-being to support yourself and others effectively. Seek support, pray, and ask questions to help in your discernment journey.

Fr Joe also shared his experience by saying that his journey into priesthood began in childhood, growing up in a Catholic family where altar serving was a norm. Initially dismissing the idea of priesthood during his teenage years, he felt a persistent pull towards it later in life. Seeking guidance from a priest, he learned to trust the process of discernment, considering Pope Francis’s advice to wait for a second judgment. Despite pursuing other career paths, the persistent calling to priesthood remained, and his spiritual adviser helped him reflect by saying “If this is persistent, that keeps coming up, don’t you think God is giving you a sign to do something about it?”

Question: What do you enjoy most as a priest?

Answer: Fr Francis shared that for him, the most fulfilling aspect of being a priest is the opportunity to help and support people in many ways, such as through the sacrament of reconciliation, visiting the sick, or offering guidance in life. Prioritising the needs of others and learning to be a compassionate shepherd brings deep contentment and spiritual growth.

“Almost 24 years, I have found that in serving others, I also receive support and service in return, and learn more about love, faith, and Jesus. It is a lifelong journey of discovery, enriched by the caring community of fellow Christians,” said Fr Francis.

Fr Joe explained there are so many joys he experiences as a priest. One highlight is celebrating marriages as it holds profound significance for him as a priest.

“It is not just about the ceremony’s aesthetics, but witnessing the love, commitment, and sacrifice of couples to each other reaffirms the meaning of my priesthood. Being part of their journey reflects and confirms the importance of my vocation,” said Fr Joe.

Vocations Office Co-Ordinator, Jet Bautista, and Vicar for Clergy, the Very Rev Fr Minh-Thuy Nguyen. Photo: Supplied.

Question: What challenges have you experienced as a priest and what did you do to overcome them? How do you also overcome doubt in wanting to continue to be a priest?

Answer:  Fr Francis shares: “As a priest, I have faced various challenges, including decision-making, public speaking, academic hurdles, sometimes prayer struggles, fleeting loneliness, and doubt about my capabilities.

To overcome them, I have learned to trust in God’s guidance, sought support from others and the Holy Spirit, and worked diligently to improve my skills and mindset. Encouraging young aspirants in their discernment journey and finding solace in community involvement and personal passions like soccer have helped me combat loneliness and maintain connection. Remembering the uniqueness of my journey and embracing my abilities while staying open to continual discernment has been crucial in navigating these challenges.”

Fr Joe shared his experience by saying: “As a priest, I have learned to face challenges with the understanding that they are temporary and finite. Whether it is academic struggles in university or the uncertainties of priesthood, the key is to take each day as it comes and do our best. Doubts about commitment are natural, but the ordination ceremony serves as an anchor point, affirming our calling and dispelling uncertainty. Embracing the idea of ‘one day at a time’ helps navigate the lifelong journey of priesthood with faith and perseverance.”

Missed out on Enquiry Day? Join us for Vocations Afternoon Tea, 19 May

If you missed out attending the Enquiry Day, hearing Fr Francis and Fr Joe speak, and learning more about discernment, do not worry! Please join us for Vocations Afternoon Tea with Fr Francis, Fr Joe and Fr Kenneth Acosta on Sunday 19 May at St Mary’s Cathedral, 2pm – 4pm.

On the day, all the priests will be sharing their stories again and answering further discernment questions you might have.

RSVP is essential at

Please note this event is for men aged 17 years and older. Another event focused on supporting all forms of vocations will be held later in the year.