New Beginnings

Fr Quyen Vu SJ, Australian Jesuit Provincial, considers the ways a new year brings opportunities to reflect on what has been and to dream of what is to come. The first graduation of students at Xavier Jesuit School, Cambodia, and the missioning of Jesuits to St Ignatius of Loyola Catholic College in south Auckland, New Zealand suggest the possibilities of listening to the Holy Spirit as we go out to share the Good News, Jesus Christ.


In December I travelled to Xavier Jesuit School in Sisophon, Cambodia. I am a previous Principal of the school, having served there from 2015 to 2020. I was there to join the celebrations upon the first graduation ceremony, held on 16 December 2022. Twenty-eight students completed year 12 and the sense of joy in accomplishment was deeply felt. You can read more about the ceremony here.

Xavier Jesuit School has been supported through its development by Jesuit Mission Australia and by many other generous benefactors. There has always been a strong collaboration between Jesuits and lay volunteers from across the world, and increasingly with the local community.

I am reminded of that generative collaboration with the founders of St Ignatius of Loyola Catholic College in south Auckland, New Zealand. For many years the Society of Jesus have been working with a dedicated group of local people seeking to establish a school in the Jesuit tradition for the communities of South Auckland. Great progress has been made and it is planned that the school will open in early 2024.

The governance of the school will be led by the Establishment Board who in turn will be supported by the Diocese of Auckland as the proprietor of the school. We desire to work with the school community through formation and accompaniment to enable its vision, which is to be a Catholic school with a strong Ignatian charism providing an education that will enable each student to grow to fullness of life (John 10:10).

I am delighted to share that I intend to mission two Jesuits, Fr Michael Smith SJ and Fr Eka Tanaya SJ, to the School in 2024 and to commence their preparations over the course of this coming year.

This missioning is an expression of our commitment to continue to hear the call of the Holy Spirit to seek new beginnings, witnessing to the love of God, in the person of Jesus Christ in new places, accompanying and sharing with new communities.

This summer period has been a time of considering new beginnings in different ways for most, if not all, of us. Christmas, amidst all the busyness as the year ends, reminds us that all our endings and beginnings are in Jesus Christ. We are most authentically ourselves when we share in the vulnerability of Jesus as we allow God’s love to be with our humanity.

The celebrations of New Year allow us to recognise what has been good about the past, and what we need to resolve to do in the time ahead. The ‘new year’s resolution’ is like the fruit of a secular examen. But again, if we allow God into the review then we can see a year ahead with an appreciation of what God is inviting us into.

The celebration of Lunar New Year is a reminder of our diverse cultures, and the way different communities and cultural traditions enhance our civil and Church communities. As we come to Australia Day, a day that is a point of hurt for so many as well as an opportunity to celebrate what has been good in our history, and as the long summer ends, we can reflect again individually and communally on what we can learn from our past and what we might hope for in the future.

I wish you and your family a blessed 2023!

Fr Quyen Vu SJ

Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.