Fr Vinsensius Mbu’i SVD

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vincens copyFr Vinsen came from a small village on a small island in Indonesia, the first of three children born to his parents, both devout Catholics. His father was a catechist: a responsible position when the local church only had a visiting priest about every month.

Vinsen went to the local government school and carried on his studies at college. His particular interest was to understand people in the context of their different cultures . When he was 21, he applied to join the SVD .  One of the attractions was the chance to travel the world. As the firstborn in his family, he was otherwise destined to be the heir of the family and to be responsible for it and his siblings in the eventuality of his father’s death, so it was understandable that he met opposition in his choice. But he persevered and joined the noviciate in Ruteng, staying there for 2 years before studying philosophy at St Paul’s Major Seminary. He then moved to Germany, making his final vows in 2010.

In 2011 he was ordained to the diaconate and the priesthood and spent his pastoral year in a parish in Lauingen in South Germany. Following this, he went to Hamburg in the north and finally to Ireland.

His first assignment in England was Hatfield in Hertfordshire. Once again, he enjoyed exploring the different culture and learned a lot. ‘I aim to understand people in the context of their own culture, without imposing my cultural habits and thinking on them,’ he says.

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Fr Vinsen is now Parish Priest at St Mary-on-the-Quay, Bristol. Here the congregation is very multicultural. There are many Filipino, African and Indian people employed in the nearby hospitals, and the presence of multiple student accommodation for the two universities and the various colleges means that there are many young people of all nationalities. ‘The challenge is to help people work and bond together, and not relate just to their own communities,’ he says.

We try to understand each other and bring our different gifts to the overall work and worship and mission of the church. Young and old, we should all feel equally at home in our church, from within our different cultures. We acknowledge our differences and learn from each other. We try to be ‘one heart with many faces’.

We try to understand each other and bring our different gifts to the overall work and worship and mission of the church. Young and old, we should all feel equally at home in our church, from within our different cultures. We acknowledge our differences and learn from each other. We try to be ‘one heart with many faces’.

Fr Vinsen encourages the parish to come together, to talk to each other, pray together, eat together and, most importantly, listen to each other. This helps people not to judge actions without understanding what lies behind them. To put it more formally, they are invited to engage in prophetic dialogue.

I asked him what his hopes were for the parish. He replied: ‘I want it to be a witness to everyone of the beauty of a loving, multicultural family’.

Marion Morgan

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