Meet our international students: Brother Grégoire, Vietnam
“I achieved my dream by coming to study in Canada, at Saint Paul University.”
After arriving in Canada from Vietnam two years ago, Brother Grégoire first went to improve his French in Rougemont, Québec, before registering in the master’s program in Systematic and Historical Theology at Saint Paul University in Fall 2014. A member of the Cistercian Order, Brother Grégoire says he has been lucky to have the opportunity to come and study at Saint Paul University. “I always wanted to know how North Americans viewed the Catholic religion and how they expressed in their daily life… I now understand that there are different ways of seeing the message of Christ.”
Brother Grégoire, who lives as a member of the Congregation of the Holy Family in a village in North Vietnam about 100 km from the capital, Hanoi, has not found it difficult to adapt to Canadian culture. “In Vietnam, people think that North Americans are cold and distant. I was surprised to find the opposite! Everyone I have met has been warm and friendly.” Not long after he arrived in Canada, Brother Grégoire experienced a moment of perfect happiness when he saw snow for the first time. “Seeing all that snow falling was a magical moment for me. I was so amazed, I even went outside to make a snowman. There is no snow in Vietnam, not even in the mountains. What a wonderful experience!”Brother Grégoire says that his biggest challenge was… getting used to the local cuisine. “I’ve actually gotten to like it,” he says with a laugh.
A devout Catholic in a country that has embraced communism, Brother Grégoire admits that those who wish to practise their religion freely face many challenges. “The government is open when it comes to the practice of religion, but there is still some resistance among the people. Not everyone is aware of our freedom to live our faith,” he says, remaining convinced of the value of his mission.
When he returns to Vietnam, Brother Grégoire’s task will be to share what he has learned with other monks in his community. “My area of study is quite specialized, but I’m looking forward to sharing with others what I have learned here during my stay,” he says with a smile.