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The Southern Cross : February 2012
The Southern Cross Page 12 February 2012 www.thesoutherncross.org.au The Southern Cross continues its Living Catholic page which features articles and photographs highlighting the many good works that often go unnoticed but make a big difference to people's lives and to the community in general. Parishes are invited to submit suggestions for stories that demonstrate in a practical sense Living Catholic. Please send an email to email@example.com. | living catholic Not many fathers can boast "legendary" status from their teenage sons. Adelaide market gardener Van Tu Nguyen can. The 51-year-old father of six from Parafield Gardens was recently knighted into an ancient Catholic order under the protection of Pope Benedict XVI and traced back to the principal leader of the First Crusade. "He's a legend," says Mr Nguyen's 17-year-old son Dominic. Mr Nguyen, former Mary MacKillop College Principal Pat Terminello, civil engineer Maurice Hayek and educator Simon Stevens were admitted to the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem by Grand Prior of the Order, Archbishop Philip Wilson, at an Investiture Mass at St Francis Xavier's Cathedral in November last year. Peter De Palma was promoted to Knight Commander, and Marie Forde and Grace Wong were elevated to the rank of Dame Commander at a Vigil Mass celebrated by Grand Prior Coadjutor Monsignor David Cappo. Born in Vietnam, Mr Nguyen and his wife Trieu fled their homeland to Australia in 1987. He immediately set to work farming and as a labourer's hand to build up a business for himself and his young family. Today he owns the Brickwork's Markets Fruit and Veg store and a farm in Virginia. The family has been an active part of the Vietnamese Catholic Community in Pooraka and its Marriage and Family Improvement Program. Though very appreciative of the knighthood, Mr Nguyen says he is already blessed: "God has given me good health, a family and happiness." For the past eight years, working two jobs at a time, Mr and Mrs Nguyen have raised enough money to set up and run an orphanage for up to 60 children in their home town of Nam Dinh (see photo). The very first babies of the St Joseph's Orphanage have begun school. Mr Nguyen said he was struck by his wife's heartbreaking tales of mostly single women abandoning their children because of poverty. His wife visited Vietnam in 2004 and although he is yet to return to his country of origin, he still feels deeply for his people. "When my wife and I came to Australia, we thought it was heaven here," he says. "We are so lucky to be here and we work hard to make money but back home my family works very, very hard and still there is not enough to eat, so we have to do all we can to help them." The Nguyens have also raised funds to rebuild a large church which was damaged by a storm. "The Equestrian order of the Holy Sepulchre can be traced back to Godfrey de Bouillon of the first crusade who gathered around him a group of knights entrusted to protect the Christian presence at the holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and defend he basilica -- the site of the crucifi xion of Christ and his burial place." The Order's principal mission is to: strengthen among its members the practice of Catholic faith and its principals of charity; sustain and aid the charitable, cultural and social works of the Catholic Church in the Holy land; preserve and propagate the Catholic faith in the Holy Land and the rights of the Catholic Church there. Simeon Gimenez is a professional volunteer. His top tip for budding helpers is: "It's all about networks." And he must know. He has a portfolio of thankyou letters, certificates and awards for his lengthy contribution to Catholic welfare and to Spanish- speaking communities of northern Adelaide. His latest accolade -- the 2011 Archbishop's Award for community service -- takes pride of place in the living room of his Salisbury North home. "We have always been a family who helps each other and others," says Simeon, 70. Over the past 35 years, Simeon, with the help of his wife Paula, has assisted hundreds of men, women and children in need of food, shelter, immigration advice, money and pastoral support. On call 24/7, he has abandoned family functions to immediately attend to the needs of strangers without complaint. "He's the most giving person that I've ever met," says St Vincent de Paul Society Salisbury conference member and former president Geoff Brown. Simeon fled Paraguay as a child to neighbouring Argentina where he later met and married Paula. The couple migrated to Australia in 1973 and have three children after their daughter passed away in 1978. He says his goodwill was inspired by Argentinian-born priest Father Romeo Saldigloria, who arrived in Adelaide in the late 1970s. "He was a special person and he would motivate you to get things done for others," says Simeon. "For me, he was the motivation." Simeon and Fr Romeo founded the Catholic Spanish-speaking community in 1976. Simeon was president of the group for a decade. He has been an active member of St Augustine's Parish since arriving in Salisbury in the 1970s and is a member of the St Vincent de Paul Society Salisbury Conference and the Family Centre at Elizabeth. He was a co-founder of Fred's Van in the Salisbury/Elizabeth area and continues to drive the van feeding homeless every Wednesday night. He is a special minister for the sick and visits the elderly once a week offering them communion and pastoral care. RECOGNISED: Simeon Gimenez and his wife Paula. Simeon has been acknowledged by Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson for his community service. Always giving Vietnamese Knight 'a legend' By Rebecca DiGirolamo Children at the orphanage in Vietnam built from funds raised by Van Tu Nguyen.