Interview with Br. Peter Khai
Vunabosco, PNG, 7 August 2017 -- Br. Peter Khai, born in Daklak (Vietnam) as 7th of nine siblings in 1982, Salesian profession in 2006, missionary in PNG since 2010, Economer & In charge of the boarding house, PNG, East New Britain province, Vunabosco community.
Who is your model of Salesian Brother? What does attract you to become a Brother?
When I look at some Salesian Brothers in Vietnam, I like their life witness so much! For example some of them are very talented, for example in music or other skills useful in our Youth Ministry. But when I discovered my own motivation, I realized that I must become holy! Work and mission is not everything! On other side, Salesian priests have positions and I don’t like to compare or to ‘fight’ – so I resolved to be stronger in holiness! Yes, everyday holiness that is realized by ordinary life faithfulness – so I try to be more faithful! I know, it’s not easy to live Salesian vocation, since I know many Salesian Brothers who already left the congregation. I would like to be faithful in spite of the difficulties, based on prayer!
What makes you happy and joyful as Salesian Brother?
When we talk about Salesian Brother, we understand somebody who is well connect with people around us. Like if I go shopping, ordinary people they recognize me as Brother in the shopping mall (Tropicana in Kokopo). All the people in the market know me, since I talked to them every day when I go shopping.
Same happiness does happen also in our community life. Sometimes to live together is a big challenge, but mostly it’s a great support in my vocation.
And also in the mission, like here in the Agro-technical boarding school: when other people are happy - I’m deeply joyful!
Happy? Sometimes I’m not happy, but I’m deeply joyful! Our life of Salesian Brothers has not easy obstacle or experience fight due to the frequent contact with the secular world and society. Sometimes I’m troubled by these things, but as Salesian I’m deeply joyful!
I’m joyful, because I’m a Salesian, due to the charism of Don Bosco. Really it’s interesting and totally different compared to the diocese and other congregations. Usually I keep in touch with other congregation living in Kokopo (MSC, Marist, SVD). When we meet we ask each other: How are you, are you happy? When we talk together it’s very nice and we learn from each other.
God has given me a simple, but very special gift of Salesian Brother vocation. Also my relatives ask me what is so interesting in religious life? I can’t explain, but there is some deep excitement in my life, that makes me joyful.
I know that some Vietnamese brothers they are not faithful in mission land, so I made a simple resolution to be faithful in my vocation until the last moment of my life with a prayers. I'm always keeping in mind the quote of holy Salesian missionary bishop and martyr, Luis Versiglia: A missionary who does not pray becomes like channel detached from the source of living water....
How to enhance more the specific contribution and visibility of the Salesian Brother?
Usually Salesian Brother can communicate with the people outside more than the priest, although they respect the priest, but usually people can’t approach him more closely.
Sometimes our mutual relationship is about ‘psychology’ – some Salesian Brothers demand too much or complain. But actually the priests they support us a lot!
Yes, we face also more temptations. I’m just a Brother and I don’t need to pray like priests with their duties of the breviary (Liturgy of hours). So I just work more with a prayerful heart!
We need more focus and visibility in all kinds of Salesian media or Salesian Bulletin, like Br. Mon in Manila showed us the support in the FB or website about the Salesian Brother.
Any expectation, dream or wish about Salesian priest?
I’m glad that in my novitiate batch eight of us are Brothers and also in the next batch. We support each other. Yes, we need to pray to Bl. Artemide Zatti, Bl. Steven Sandor and Venerable Simon Srugi. We need to pray for the quality and new Salesian Brother Vocation!
If we look at some Brothers who are not holy, not zealous in the mission or in Salesian vocation we are not happy. But in the case of the Salesian priest, we feel still more sad! As Brothers we are upset, but at those mediocre Salesian priest we are really very sad. My expectation is that Salesian priest not only knows how to listen but to become holy. I don’t’ need a talented rector, but holy rector. It would help my fidelity in my vocation.