Interviews with the Ordained

Interviews with the Ordained

Posted: Tue, 08 Dec 2020 14:56

  • Interviews with the Ordained
  • Joe and Greg celebrating their Ordination at Battersea

  • The Ordination at Battersea

You may remember Joseph and Gregory from an article we featured in RuaLink this summer, where we focused on their upcoming Ordination. We can confirm that they have successfully completed the process of Ordination at Battersea. As part of their Ordination, they were interviewed on their experiences, and have given us some interesting insights on the process. The interviews are featured below.

Joseph

Hello Joseph. Would you tell us about yourself, your family and where you come from?

Originally, I am from Vietnam, from the south, which is not far away from Saigon, the biggest city in the country. I come from a very devout Catholic family.

Can you tell us some key points in your vocation story?

When I was at university, I realised that God was calling me. I did not know the Salesians. I left home and went to college where I met a friend who was in contact with the Salesians, so he invited me to play football with them. So, that is the first time in my life that I saw a priest playing football, and he was playing with us. That was my first attraction to the Salesian life. One of the key things was when I was sent as a student, during a summer camp, to a place where I met really poor people; they didn't have anything to eat or a chance to go to school. They didn't receive any education. I was sent there to stay with them for three months, and I brought them all sorts of things. The most important thing for them is that we played football together. Actually, we did everything together. After that, I came back and reflected on that experience and decided then to become a Salesian, to help young people, especially those who are poor and abandoned.

Where there any difficulties in your life as a Salesian?

One of the difficulties for me in my Salesian vocation was when I applied for the missionary ad gentes. I was sent to the UK, and at that time, I couldn't speak a word of English at all, so it was a big challenge for me. But I believed God was calling me, so I accepted. It was difficult to learn a new language in a new country. For the first five years I was struggling to get into the life in the UK. I had to understand the young people, the safeguarding training; it was all new for me. In Vietnam we don't have that. Also, I missed the Oratory.

What are the joys of the Salesian life for you?

The joy was that I can play sports and work with young people every day. Seeing them smile and hearing their stories, that kept me going. The love of the brothers in the community is very important for me. I have lived in four different communities here, and I felt love in all of them. Everyone accepted me and I could contribute also. It made me happy; I am part of the bigger family.

What is your message for young people?

The message I want to give to young people is: Try to do different things, get involved in your parish and your school. The most important thing is to go to Sunday Mass regularly. If you succeed in these small things, you might be able to find your vocation. The main thing is to find what is your path and what God wants you to be. It is not about you, but it is important to discover what God wants for you. Be happy whatever challenge comes, because Jesus Christ is with you all the time.

Gregory

Hello Gregory! Would you tell us about yourself, your family and where you come from?

I come from Nigeria. I am the seventh of eight children. I come from a Catholic background, and my parents helped me to know Christ. They are the ones who introduced me to the Church and Christian life.

Can you tell us some key points in your vocation story?

Growing up, I was near priests, and the first that I remember was Fr Christopher. Through his life I was touched, but I never thought of becoming a priest; I just appreciated the way he carried out his priesthood.

When I finished high school, I asked myself: "What am I going to do? For what am I living?" I had a girlfriend in my youth, and we were planning to get married. One day she called me and said: "You know what, it would be better for you to become a priest." I was like: "What?!" I was surprised because I had never thought of that. She was the one who actually introduced me to the Salesians, saying: "Come, there's a place where we could go on Sunday where a lot of young people go!" I accepted and went there with her. They called it a 'place to be', like 'paradise in the bush'. The atmosphere caught me, but what really touched me was the first time I got there, I played basketball with a priest, but I didn't know he was a priest at that time. He was playing with young people, something I had never witnessed in my life. At the end of the day we went for the adoration and benediction before going home. The person who played basketball with me was giving a benediction! That really touched me. I said to myself: "I want to become a priest just like him!" I want to be playing basketball with young people and giving them a blessing at the end of the day. That was one of the key points in my vocation story.

Where there any difficulties in your life as a Salesian?

It has not been an easy road. My difficulty was leaving home first and then leaving my country. I was missing my family and my parents. I thought: "I don't think I know my parents and my brothers and sisters very well." So that was not easy. Joining the Salesians, I joined another family. In the beginning it wasn't easy because we were many. In a way it was the survival of the fittest because there were many vocations. Many people were there but only few were chosen at the end of the day because they hadn't enough accommodation to take care of all of us. Some candidates had to be dismissed. At that point I was doubting, I didn't think I was qualified to be there, that I was holy enough to become a Salesian. So, all these doubts set me back sometimes, it wanted to break my enthusiasm. But with the help of my spiritual director and most of my confrères, we were able to work together. They were able to encourage me whenever I was down.

What is the key thing for a Salesian in his life?

For me, the key thing that has helped me so far is my personal relationship with Christ. He is the key. If he is not, we don't have anything to offer. Forget about community life, forget about running with young people. If we don't have Christ in us, if we don't have that close relationship to him, we are giving nothing. We can't give what we don't have, and we bring him in different ways in our apostolates, in school, in the parish, on the road. My good relationship with Christ helps me to relate to my brothers in the community and with young people that I meet.

What is your message for young people?

I would like to give this message to young people: My dear young people, do not be afraid! All of us are called into the life of holiness. Being a Salesian, being a religious, a sister, a married person, is a vocation. Do not be afraid to make this extraordinary step to live a good life. Do not be afraid to come close to Christ, to going to church. You are free to ask questions. Ask your priest! If you have doubts, ask! All of us are called. It is not easy but making the first step matters a lot. Together we can achieve this holiness, together we can live the life of Christ.

Tags: Battersea, Homepage