God always stands behind me
On February 1, Mark Ha, Foliga Etuale and Lourdhu Raju joined Deacon Joshua Scott, Namora Anderson, Alexander Osborne, Eden Langlands and Adrian Chan in training for the Archdiocesan priesthood. This month, Catholic Voice shares Mark’s story.
MARK HA: I am 22 years old and from Vietnam. I have been in Australia for more than three years with my two brothers enjoying a fulfilling life in Canberra, and recently completing a Commerce degree at the University of Canberra.
I was born in the DakMil township of the Dak Nong province in Vietnam.
My family consists of my parents, two brothers and myself.
The first school I studied at was Tuoi Hong Childcare, which was operated by the Sisters of Mary Queen of Peace.
I started to study the Bible and prayer-books during my time in childcare.
When I was six, my aunt who is a nun spent her holiday with my family along with one of her friends who is also a nun.
After dinner, her friend asked me, “Do you want to become a priest, because I think you are a charitable person? You love people and you also love God.”
As I was just a young child at this time, I was a bit confused.
When I thought of a priest, I saw him as someone who can have a great influence in the community.
After that, Fr John came to visit my family and at that time, I became his godson.
I felt a peace and charity from him which attracted me to discover more about God and I wanted to be like Fr John.
My mother said: “God provides us with many blessings and it depends upon us to discover how we can use these blessings sharing them with other people, especially for those who haven’t known God or who lack faith in God.”
When I was in high school, I used to go with my mother to help the priest clean the church.
I joined in the Divine Mercy group and we prayed together at 3pm every day.
Day by day, I loved that job because I had more time to talk with God.
I was able to freely pray with Him, tell Him about stories which I heard in my class and in my family, and I would ask Him to help me.
Although I haven’t heard directly from God, I see the face of Jesus in my neighbours.
I think they are representing the Lord when they talk with me.
Sometimes I encounter difficult problems that I don’t think I can deal with. In God however, I always have someone who stands behind me encouraging me, showing me the way and giving me the
confidence to achieve what often seems impossible.
I realise that He has a perfect plan for me and that I just have to respond by being open to His ways and trusting in His providence.
The first time I believed I had a calling to the priesthood was when I completed my exams at the end of year 12.
My dream was to apply to the University of Sciences to major in biology and mathematics.
The entrance exams were quite difficult, however, and the results did not turn out as I had hoped for and I was not able to enter the university.
It seemed as though my dream had faded away. I was so sad when I came back to my home town.
My mother encouraged me to undertake a course in the parish reflecting on the Bible.
The nun in the parish helped me to understand more about Catholic life and asked me to place my trust in God.
I asked her to pray for me about the exam and she said: “Jesus has the best thing for you in mind and you have to wait until it happens. Do not worry, and trust in the guidance of Jesus in which you can play your part.”
After hearing this, I felt happy again and did not worry about the results. My spirit was uplifted when talking with Him and telling Him
about the weaknesses and difficulties in my life.
I am sure that He always hears me and helps me to cooperate with his life and love.
I have discovered a love for reading the Bible and listening to Catholic music in my free time. I enjoy singing and often sang at Mass in Vietnam.
Before becoming a seminarian, I visited the Good Shepherd Seminary in Sydney a few times.
There I had the chance to meet many seminarians and felt at home talking with other people who were enthusiastic about their faith.
I discovered that there was a sense of reverence and deep beauty when we gathered to pray.
This time helped me to discover other young men who encouraged me to understand more about my own vocation. I could feel that it would be a good place to learn more about God and my faith, all the while continuing to develop my communication skills with others.