Benedictine Monastery, Thu Duc

One of my favourite places in all Vietnam is the Benedictine Monastery in Thu Duc, a semi-rural satellite district of Ho Chi Minh City. Every time I visit the monastery has grown incredibly. This time there were over 100 brothers in residence, and having lunch in the refectory with them was an amazing experience. The sheer joy of communal life lived on such a large scale is something I think most of us in the West can no longer imagine.
The monastery itself is hard to find - the taxi driver from saigon invariably has to make half a dozen or so stops in order to find the right place. Once there, one is dropped off at the t op of a long and sandy road and wanders down through the jungle to the main monastery entrance. Such a perfectly isolated position for a community of contemplative monks.

The monastery is something of a destination venue for people seeking spiritual solace and healing. From early morning people arrive in droves for an audience with the monks, who hear their confessions and pray for them.
Life is tough for the monks - no air-con, the simplest meals, working hard all day, Gregorian chant several times a day - it's non-stop, actually. I came home absolutely exhauasted, and I was only watching them.

The monks are overwhelmingly young, and are amazed when I tell them how the Sydney community only has a half dozen or so elderly monks.


Anonymous said…
Darling - what an amazing place! I am so glad you got to spend some time there... tel me - how does it compare to Arcadia?? Is there a deeper sense of spirituality there because of the living conditions (and also the age of the brothers)??

Hope you and Thang are well,

Siobhan x

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