Growing up in southern Vietnam, Paul Tran Truong Tho was inspired in his faith by his parents.
“I was influenced significantly by my devout parents. They reminded us to attend the Holy Mass, join some parish activities constantly as well as say our daily prayers every night as a family,” Paul told Catholic Outlook.
“99% of the people in my region are Catholics. There was a big immigration movement from the north to south Vietnam in 1954, and almost all of them were Catholics. My grandparents and parents joined this immigration with other Catholics and moved into the same village, where they established a new parish named [after] the Sacred Heart.”
Paul is one of the four first year seminarians at the Diocese of Parramatta’s Holy Spirit Seminary at Harris Park.
Paul, 32, was born and raised in Lam Dong Province in Vietnam and is the fifth of six children. Paul spent all of his life in Vietnam until his call to vocation saw him move to Australia.
Growing up in Vietnam, Paul participated in several church activities, such as learning to be a catechist, a choirboy, and became a member of the St Francis’ youth group.
“At that time, I had a good chance to learn and grow up in the faith and initially [a call to] vocation,” he said.
It was during high school that Paul felt his initial call to a religious vocation.
“During the time of high school, I did not know how to pray much, but I experienced that I am loved by God. My motivation at the time was that I wished to respond to God’s love and share His love to others.”
After high school, Paul spent one year working in maintenance in a hospital in Sai Gon before entering into religious life within a congregation, as well as studying business at university.
It was during his time in religious life that Paul further discerned a call to the priesthood.
“Joining the congregation, I grew up under the training of the Holy Spirit and formation staff. I was happy in the consecrated life in deepening my interior life in relationship with Jesus and wished to transmit God’s grace and love by celebrating the sacraments.
“I continued my vocation in this congregation until my changing. Then, in 2018, I contacted Fr John Paul, Director of Priestly Vocations in the Diocese of Parramatta. After nearly two years of being guided by those who were in charge, I arrived in Australia in September 2019.
“I received strong support from my parents and family. They wished for me to live happily and become a good tool in God’s hand.”
Having been in Australia for less than a year, Paul described that everything is new to him, but has been made to feel at home in the seminary.
“[Arriving in Australia], what I need to do is to open myself [up] so as to adapt and enjoy this new life. The seminary is a good place for my adapting and training for a further purpose.
“In addition, [my] brothers and people here [in the seminary] are really kind to help and friendly to make me feel at home.
“In the seminary, I am trying to deepen my life through the four pillars of formation in the seminary and always being aware of my training.
“I am really excited with Rector Fr John Hogan’s teaching and reminders to live by heavenly values and grow up in practical virtues because I was created in God’s image and likeness.
“The purpose of studying is to be a better instrument in God’s hands. Therefore, I hope to have more chances to see, talk and live with others.”
Paul’s words of advice to men who are discerning their vocation to the priesthood is to accept the call with sincerity.
“Experience that we are love by the word of Incarnation and then respond to God’s call with sincerity and wholesomeness, so that we can receive His personal training for the sake of God’s will and all souls.”
To find out more about a vocation to priesthood in the Diocese of Parramatta, visithttps://parracatholic.org/vocations/, contact the Holy Spirit Seminary or Director of Priestly Vocations, Fr John Paul Escarlan – firstname.lastname@example.org.