Priest recounts his family’s Vietnam war

Fr Kim Son Nguyen and Paul Calleja with the book (The eRecord/Matthew Lau)

A Perth priest has written a book describing his family’s 10-year quest for freedom from communist-controlled Vietnam. Source: The eRecord.

By Matthew Lau, The eRecord

Bassendean parish priest Fr Kim Son Nguyen co-authored the paperback with Bedford parishioner Paul Calleja. Fr Nguyen moved to Australia in 1991 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2000 after years of formation at St Charles’ Seminary in Guilford.

The idea for the book, he said, was to preserve his family’s stories for future generations. Religious freedom and the practice of faith are topics addressed in the 179-page book.

Son of Vietnam was released last year as a gift to mark his parents’ 60th wedding anniversary.

“My father wished to write a book a long time ago in Vietnamese,” Fr Nguyen said. “Millions and millions of people suffered more than we did.”

Although he usually attends Mass at Bedford parish, Mr Calleja grew up in Bassendean and came to know Fr Nguyen through the duty of regularly driving his elderly father to Mass.

“Dad was 89, [he] couldn’t drive safely. It coincided with Fr Son arriving at Bassendean,” Mr Calleja recounted.

“Fr Son was using his homilies to get his parishioners acquainted with him. He told stories of Vietnam, I listened intently because I am interested in history – my brother was called to service in Vietnam.

“I had just finished another project and was just fascinated with Fr Son’s story, so I approached him, and put [the idea of a book] to him. After some time, he said his family were interested for him to go ahead with it.”

Son of Vietnam took more than five years to develop and is written in English.

“The generation [of Vietnamese people] reared in Australia can have a deeper knowledge and appreciation of the sacrifices and contribution that their ancestors have made to allow them to enjoy these benefits,” Mr Calleja said.


Son of Vietnam – A family’s epic quest for freedom (The eRecord

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