Society Matters | Volume 34 No. 2 | Winter 2024

3 Volume 34 No. 2 | Winter 2024 Society Matters Cuong gives thanks as he takes final vows and is ordained to diaconate Cuong Quoc Dang SVD’s profession of final vows as a Divine Word Missionary in Box Hill, Melbourne, in March, followed by his ordination as a deacon, were pivotal moments in a winding, but grace-filled vocational journey. Accompanied by his mother and parish priest, who travelled from Vietnam to share in the joy of the occasion, Cuong was also surrounded by fellow Divine Word Missionaries and other religious and lay people connected to the SVDs. Cuong’s journey to religious life began in Vietnam, then led him to Thailand, where he experienced a spiritual awakening amidst the bustling streets of Bangkok. Notable to Cuong’s vocational discernment was his encounter with Fr Anthony Le Duc SVD, an SVD priest dedicated to serving Vietnamese Catholic migrants in Bangkok. Witnessing Fr Anthony’s commitment to accompanying and empowering the marginalised, broadened Cuong’s understanding of priestly ministry, transcending traditional pastoral roles to encompass advocacy and social justice. In 2016, Cuong entered the SVD Australia Province as a postulant, becoming the first Vietnamese migrant worker in Thailand to be accepted. Cuong spent the following year learning English and then completed his Novitiate in the Philippines where he took his first vows. He then undertook theology studies in Australia and professed his final vows at Box Hill in Melbourne. Preaching on the Gospel chosen for the day, Provincial, Fr Asaeli Rass SVD said Cuong must make the Logos, the Word made flesh, the centre of his missionary life. “I pray and hope that you Cuong will cultivate an awareness of the Logos in all creation, and awareness of the Word of God in the world and work towards restoring creation … and be a witness always to the Light and the Truth,” Fr Rass said. After indicating his resolve to proceed, Cuong lay prostrate as the Litany of Saints was sung over him. He then made his vows of poverty, chastity and obedience according to the SVD Constitutions. “I cannot be here today without the help and support of many people,” Cuong said at the end of the Perpetual Vows celebration. “From my parents, mentors, and fellow Divine Word Missionaries to the wider community, each has played a significant role in my vocation journey. It has been a winding and complicated journey filled with challenges but also opportunities for me to learn, grow, and transform.” The following day, Cuong was ordained to the diaconate by Melbourne Auxiliary Bishop Terence Curtin. He was clothed in his deacon’s vestments by his mother and Fr Anthony, who travelled from Thailand to attend the celebrations. Speaking afterwards, he thanked God, his parents and confreres, academic professors, tutors, spiritual directors and all who had helped him on his journey and asked those present to continue to pray for him in the journey ahead. Cuong’s first mission assignment will be to Angola after ordination to the priesthood later this year.