Dominicans the perfect fit for budding philosopher

Picture: 
David Chua, OP and parents
Body: 

TWENTY-THREE-YEAR-OLD Perth Catholic David Chua took the first major step towards becoming a Dominican priest recently, receiving the Order’s habit and taking on the name of Br Reginald Mary.

The former Willetton resident joined the Dominicans in Adelaide last year as a novice, and received the habit and religious name on June 27, the feast of the Sacred Heart.

Br Reginald told The Record the knowledge that he is living the daily life of a religious gives him great peace and joy.

“One thing I’ve found constant joy in is wearing the habit,” he said.

“The black and white of the habit symbolise penance and purity, and are a constant reminder to me that I ought to be striving for holiness through those means.”

His choice of religious name was based on the inspiration of three role models – Blessed Reginald of Orleans, a close friend of St Dominic, Our Lady, and Fr Reginald Marie Garrigou-Lagrange, a 20th century Dominican theologian and Thomistic philosopher.

“Fr Reginald Marie’s example as an academically-leaning Dominican who subordinated his academic work to contemplation and devotion to Jesus and Mary was especially inspiring for me, because I was interested in an academic career before entering,” Br Reginald said.

Along with two other Australian novices and 11 international novices, Br Reginald is now completing his novitiate at the Dominican province in Hong Kong.

“We all come from very different backgrounds but I already feel a strong sense of brotherhood among us,” Br Reginald said.

The daily life for the novices includes recitation of the Divine Office and the Rosary, Mass, mental prayer, periods of silence, recreation, and several hours of formative classes.

Br Reginald, who was studying for a Master of Philosophy at Sydney University prior to entering, was initially drawn to the Order through the witness of the Dominican priests at the university.

“I attended many Masses celebrated by the fathers and one thing that became clear to me was that these men were very liturgically oriented – they believed that the Eucharist was the summit of Christian life and that Christ was truly present, and they expressed this in their reverence and devotion,” he said.

“But at the end of the day it was the fact that everything in the Dominican life seemed oriented to union with God, especially the habit, the community life and the religious vows.

“I became convinced, and still am, that it would help me strive for sainthood better than any means I can find in the world.”

The young novice said it was a great blessing to have his family support his decision to enter religious life.

“I think my parents are quite at peace with my decision and I thank God for that,” he said.

“My two siblings, one of whom is a religious sister with the Ursuline Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, have also been very supportive even prior to my entry into the Order when I was still discerning.”

Although it will be seven years before his solemn profession, Br Reginald said he feels capable of living the religious life.

“I am confident God will give me the grace to overcome any obstacles remaining in my life that may prevent me from attaining the sanctity he desires for his priests and religious,” he said.

“God willing I will make simple profession in June 2015, after which I’ll begin my studentate, in which I’ll undertake formal philosophical and theological studies in preparation for, eventually, God willing, priestly ordination.”

 

Matthew Biddle

(23 July 2014)