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Today, the new pre-Novitiate group, men who have decided to join the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, arrived in Blackburn.

Their director is Khoi Nyuyrn MSC. We asked him for his perspectives on the year and formation, and included some photos connected with Cuskelly House where they will live.

A Vision Within

Khoi Nguyen msc

When Peter Malone asked me to write something in regard to my vision for the Pre-Novitiate this year (perhaps for some years ahead), I was reminded of another vision he asked me to express at the beginning of 2017. He asked me to write about how I had envisaged my SRC presidency at YTU and what I would have liked to achieve. In that short article I started by saying that I had no idea of such vision.

I would like to begin this article with the same response: I really have no idea about such a vision for the Pre-Novitiate. Firstly, it is because I have never been trained in the position. Secondly, it is because I’m not a visionary type of person, someone who has ability to look into future and make decisions for today. My vision is here and now. My vision is what I can see and perceive in the heart - a vision within.

khoi book cover

Khoi's perspective in his 2018 book

My vision is a hope that our incoming pre-novices would be able to go back into their hearts and see what’s there. I remember Brian Gallagher, in his talk at the opening dinner of the APIA conference in September last year, reminding all of us, formators especially, of the distant difference between external behavioural formation (hopefully a thing of the past) and formation of the heart.

Formation of the heart is, first of all, a perspective viewing one’s own heart, one’s own whole person, through layers of external behaviours and shells of personality and reactions. This cannot be done with haste but with time, patience and trust in God’s grace and unconditional love. Pre-Novitiate is, I pray and hope, a time of exploring without fear the human heart and desires for God alone. Each person needs to do that - pre-novice as well formator. I also hope that as a formator I would be able to journey with them in that sacred exploration of themselves.  

Recently in a casual conversation with a sister, I told her about my new job, being a formator. She told me something that struck my ego: “The new formators often think that they know all about formation. The truth is quite the opposite.” At first I felt annoyed with such a comment. I felt a bit humiliated. But the more I sat with it, the more I realised two things.

khoi ordination jan 21

Cuskelly House is part of St Thomas parish, Blackburn, where Khoi will also be assistant priest.

First, not only the new ones don’t know what formation is all about but it also happens to the old ones, the more experienced ones. Formation is dealing with human persons as mysteries. No formator can really say that they know all about formation of such mysteries. Formation is a very humbling experience and task. A lot of occasions in life we are called to enter an unknown journey, and one can only enter it with complete trust. “We walk by faith but not by sight” - Frank Andersen’s song rings in my mind.

Second, the formation of the heart is a wholistic journey that a formator plays only one of the factors and influences in it all. A formator, from time to time, should not be an obstacle to God’s work in a formandus. But at the same time, they need to know when to provide what their formandi need. It’s always a balanced act and a delicate awareness of self and God’s work in the Spirit.

Cardinal visits 28 June 2014 025

In 2014, Cardinal Aziz visited Cuskelly House, seen in the background with the then Melbourne MSC community - quite a number still there!

Please keep me In your prayers as well as our incoming pre-novices: Trieu Nguyen, Daniel (Iyel) Magadia, Daniel O’Conner, and Dean Fonseca.