Redemptorists of Australia and New Zealand

Australia, New Zealand and Samoa

Province of Oceania

Bringing Good News to the World

You gave me welcome

By Fr John Baptist Dang Nhat Truong C.Ss.R.

I am a foreign student but among foreign students I am not a foreigner.  

I grew up in Vietnam where, at the age of 28, I was professed into the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. Three years later, in 2007, I transferred to the Australian Redemptorists. As I continue my studies as a foreign student in Melbourne, I rub shoulders with fellow foreign students at the TAFE where I study English.

I notice their struggle to adapt to their new circumstances as temporary residents or permanent citizens.  I have a feel for that struggle because it is also mine. Starting-over in a new culture has stretched my imagination, my perseverance, my life-skills, even my faith.

John Dang Nhat Truong, C.Ss.R.In Vietnam I had seen considerable poverty. I’ve become aware that in Australia poverty is more veiled.  When I see foreign students I recognise their disorientation and I feel for them. They are away from family, culture, religion and familiar things.  The relationships and gestures that gave them identity are missing. They are deprived.  This is their poverty. I partly share it.

Perhaps to relieve their loneliness, or to fit in, a few foreign students get involved in drug-taking and binge-drinking. Without meaning to, they can quickly slip into the seedier side of life. A few again resort to criminality.  It is their effort to belong, even if it is belonging to a gang.

As I settle into this new culture it is my desire to find ways of accompanying foreign students. Redemptorists seek out those on society’s edges, and I’m feeling called to make life-giving connections with foreign students who are at the edges.

While they get on their feet, I hope they may find in me and my community a second family. I would like them to find among us a place for spontaneous fun, a place to share music and meals, and a place that acknowledges their religion, culture and true worth.

I was a stranger and you gave me welcome
- Matthew 25:35b