Fr Luan Le was born in 1973 in Vietnam and came to Australia with his family. After completing a degree in medical laboratory science and working for a period, he joined the Capuchin friars and made his First Profession of vows in 2003. To complete his studies for the priesthood he was sent to Rome and completed a Licence in Moral Theology at the Accademia Alfonsiana. He was ordained a priest in 2010. He worked as the assistant priest in Plumpton parish and also assisted with the Vietnamese community. He is currently working in the Capuchin mission of Timor Leste, as the post-novitiate formator. The interview below took place in the mid-2000's.
I grew up in a Catholic family. I made my first communion and confirmation and was also an altar boy. I had never thought that I would have a calling to become a priest or a religious (actually, I did have one: When I had an argument with my father and my father told me off. I was so angry and I said: you know I will leave home and become a priest so you won’t see me again). Back then I took my Catholic faith for granted. Going to Mass on Sunday was just another routine that I had to do. I just went to the church passively. I paid no attention to the readings and the Gospel and homily of the priest was just another long boring talk. I gradually lost interest in going to Mass. However, I still kept going to make my parents happy.
When I graduated from medical laboratory science I took a job in a hospital in Port Lincoln, in South Australia (my family lives in Adelaide). In a new town, initially, I felt lonely. This new place was very beautiful. Beaches, sand dunes and national parks were all around the place. I made the effort to have new friends, to be involved in community groups and play sport. But what attracted me most was the peacefulness and serenity of this place. One of my friends also invited me to a Bible discussion group. It was just a group of young people at my age who came together basically for socialising. So as time went by I gradually absorbed the good quality of country life. I liked to take a long walk in the parks and on the beaches. Let my mind be lost in the wonder of nature. I spent more time praying. I went to church more attentively.
A turning point in my life occurred one day at work during my conversation with a patient whom I had gained an acquaintance with for some time. He told me he got up in the morning and saw his wife laying dead next to him. When I finished my work and went home that evening, somehow that morning conversation kept lingering in my mind. I thought: “One day I am alive and the next day I die, what is the meaning of my life? My life should be something more than this mundane working routine”. I took up this question with the Lord in my prayer. I asked Him to show me His light, to guide me and show me my purpose in life. Everyday after work I went to church to pray with that same intention in my mind.
One day it happened that I picked up a book that was written about the life of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio). I read it enthusiastically. I was so fascinated. I admired so much about St.Pio’s life: a life of suffering, fervent praying and loving. Somehow this stirred my heart and awoke my fervour to follow Jesus and to serve His Church. So from then I talked to my parish priest and I then got to know the Capuchins and joined them afterwards.