VOCATIONS SUNDAY: It is so important to take time and find out, says St Charles Seminary Rector

18 Apr 2024

By Contributor

By Joseph Younes

Vocations Sunday 2024
Fr Francis Nguyen with the St Charles Seminary Class of 2023. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.

This Sunday, 21 April 2024, marks the 61st World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

The Catholic Church dedicates this day to all vocations and encourages people to reflect on their own vocation and discern God’s calling to them.

This day, also known as Good Shepherd Sunday, holds profound significance as it marks the 61st anniversary of the initiative, originally introduced by Saint Paul VI during the Second Vatican Council in 1964.

Fr Francis Nguyen is the Rector of St Charles Seminary for the Archdiocese of Perth. Ahead of the Ordination to the Priesthood of Deacons Errol Lobo and Jason Yeap, he spoke to The Record about priestly vocations.

Fr Francis speaks at the ordination to the diaconate of Jason Yeap and Errol Lobo on 17 February 2023. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.

The Record: What would you say to those considering a vocation to the priesthood?

Fr Francis Nguyen: Priesthood is, as in other vocations, a beautiful and sublime gift from God and the Church; it is certainly challenging at times but deeply rewarding and fulfilling.

If you feel drawn or attracted to the sort of life, service and witness given by priests or have become aware of a repeated stirring in your heart to be one, it is so important to take time and find out what it really means for you.

There are a few steps you may find helpful to complete such a process. You may begin by talking about it to your parish priest or other priests you know personally. You can always contact the Vocations Office or St Charles Seminary.

Dedicated and friendly staff will put you in touch with those who would guide you and assist you in exploring and ascertaining your aspiration so that you would make a good and informed decision regarding your future.

Then Deacon Nathan Barrie (now Fr), St Charles seminarian Christopher De Freitas and then Deacon Nicholas Diedler (now Fr) at the 80th anniversary celebration for St Charles Seminary, 4 November 2023. Photo: Simon Hall.

The Record: How does St Charles Seminary nurture a seminarian’s spiritual life and formation?

FN: The Seminary aims to provide both a conducive environment and a praxis to the spiritual formation of the seminarians, assisting them to build a solid spiritual foundation for their future life and ministry as Diocesan priests.

We encourage a dynamic and cohesive process of integration and growth to holiness.

The inputs of daily Mass, morning and evening prayer of the Divine Office, Retreat and reflection days, Holy Hour, Lectio Divina (praying with the Scripture), Rosary, meditation, spiritual reading, spiritual direction and pastoral reflection are part of the Seminary life.

Seminarians also receive spiritual formation from some religious orders.

Former Vicar General, Fr Peter Whitely, Archbishop Emeritus Barry Hickey, then newly ordained Fr Nicholas Diedler, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, Bishop Don Sproxton and Fr Francis Nguyen at the occasion of Fr Nicholas’ ordination, 24 March 2023. Photo: Ron Tan.

The Annual Enquiry Day for Vocations to the Priesthood will take place on Sunday 5 May at St Charles Seminary from 9am to 1.30 pm, including Holy Hour, Mass, morning tea, vocation stories, questions and answers and a tour. For more information, contact stcharlesseminary@perthcatholic.org.au or vocations@perthcatholic.org.au.