The SVD is establishing a new mission in the Rockhampton Diocese, based in the regional town of Emerald in Queensland’s central highlands.
The Divine Word Missionaries were invited to take up the appointment by the Bishop of Rockhampton Michael McCarthy.
Two missionaries, Fr Truc Quoc Phan SVD and Fr Firminius (Yon) Wiryono SVD arrived in Emerald this month and between them they will care for four churches at Emerald, Springsure, Blackwater and the Aboriginal community of Woorabinda, in a region which lies about 270km west of the city of Rockhampton.
Fr Truc, who has just completed a six year term as Province Mission Secretary, says he is looking forward to his new assignment.
“The Bishop has asked me to work across the parishes and to form a Council for the district,” he says. “So this is a new challenge for me and for the parish. There are also two hospitals and four schools in our care.
“But I’m looking forward to the collaboration with Fr Yon and with the parishioners here, who have already been very, very welcoming.”
Fr Truc says his arrival hasn’t gone the way he envisaged it would, given the new regulations surrounding religious liturgies and gatherings of people during the coronavirus crisis. Just as he was getting to know the parishioners, the government ordered that churches be closed, which meant people could no longer attend Mass.
“So, things are not quite as I expected in that regard, but I’m getting up to date on the new regulations,” he says.
“And I know the faith of the people is strong up here, even during these very challenging times, and I’m looking forward to fostering that.”
Fr Yon, who has been ministering at St Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Marsden, Brisbane, says he is sad to leave his suburban faith community but excited about the rural challenge ahead.
“I’m excited, but at the same time sad, because I have to leave the community that I consider as my own family, where I’m loved, accepted, supported and appreciated,” he says.
“But I’m excited about the new parish and the new life and adventure ahead.
“I’m looking forward to serving in a different community, not in a city context, which I’m used to, but in a regional context, where the people are generally farmers and mining workers.
“So it’s going to be a new experience that will enrich me even more.”
PHOTOS: Fr Truc Quoc Phan SVD getting to know some of his new parishioners in Rockhampton Diocese before the coronavirus hit.