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Quang Duc Monastery ,Fawkner, Victoria Australia, Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony

Frank Carter and Rilla Oellien



On Sunday morning, 10th of December 2000, the Buddhist monks, nuns and lay Buddhists of Quang Duc Monastery in Fawkner, gathered together for the Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony of the Meditation Hall and Youth Activities Hall at the site 105 Lynch Road, Fawkner, Vic. 3060.


Honourable Sangha from left to right, Venerable Thich Bao Lac, Deputy Chair and Secretary-General of the Unified Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation, from Phap Bao Temple, Sydney. Most Venerable Thich Huyen Ton, Member of the Honorary Elders Council of the unified Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation in Australia and New Zealand, from Melbourne. Most Venerable Thich Tam Chau, Patriarch of the World Vietnamese Buddhist Order, from Montreal, Canada. Most Venerable Thich Nhu Hue, Chairperson of the National Executive Council of the Unified Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation in Australia and New Zealand, from Adelaide. Most Venerable Ajhan Viryananda, Abbot of the Buddha Vihara Thai Temple, in Box Hill, Victoria.



The proceedings began with the Teaching of Buddhist doctrines by Venerable Thich Nhat Tan, Commissioner for Youth Affairs and Abbot of Phap Quang Temple in Queensland.


In attendance at the ceremony was:

Most Venerable Thich Tam Chau, Patriarch of the World Vietnamese Buddhist Order, Montreal, Canada;Most Venerable Thich Huyen Ton, Member of the Honorary Elders Council of the Unified Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation in Australia and New Zealand, Melbourne;Most Venerable Thich Nhu Hue, Chairperson of the National Executive Council, of the Unified Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation in Australia- New Zealand, from Adelaide;Most Venerable Ajahn Viriyananda, Abbot of the Buddha Vihara Thai Temple, in Box Hill, Melbourne; Venerable Santhindrya, Sri Lanka Buddhist Congregation in Victoria; Venerable Thich Bao Lac, Deputy Chair and Secretary-General of our Congregation, from Phap Bao Temple, Sydney;

Venerable Thich Tinh Minh, Secretary-General, Ecclesiastical Council of our Congregation, from Thien Duc Temple, Melbourne;Venerable Thich Quang Ba, Senior Deputy Chair of the Congregation, from Sakyamuni Buddhist Centre, Canberra;Venerable Thich Minh Tri, Abbot Phuoc Tuong Temple, Melbourne; Venerable Thich Bon Dien, Commissioner for Sangha Affairs of the Congregation, from Huyen Quang Temple, Sydney; Venerable Thich Nguyen Truc, Deputy Commissioner for Sangha Affairs, from A Di Da Temple, Sydney;Venerable Thich Minh Hieu, Abbot, Minh Quang Meditation Centre, Sydney;Venerable Thich Tinh Dao, Deputy Commissioner for the Laity Affairs of our Congregation, from Linh Son Temple, Melbourne;Venerable Thich Thien Tam, from Hoa Nghiem Temple, Melbourne (the United Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation in Australia and New Zealand);Venerable Thich Vien Chon, Deputy Commissioner for Finance Affairs of the Congregation, from Vinh Nghiem Temple, Sydney;Venerable Thich Quang Nghiem, Commissioner for Public Welfare Affairs of the Congregation, from Phuoc Hau Temple, Sydney;Venerable Thich Quang Hoa, Van Hanh Monastery, Canberra;

Venerable Thich Nhuan Kim, from Van Hanh Monastery, Canberra;Venerable Bikkhuni Thich Nu Phuoc Tri, Commissioner for Bikkhuni Affairs of the Congregation, the Quan Am Temple, Perth;Venerable Bikkhuni Thich Nu Chon Dao, Deputy Commissioner for Bikkhuni Affairs, Perth; Venerable Bikkhuni Thich Nu Tam Lac, Deputy Treasurer of the Congregation, from Lien Hoa Temple, Sydney;

Venerable Bikkhuni Thich Nu Chan Kim, Abbot of Phat Quang Monastery, Victoria;

Venerable Bikkhuni Thich Nu Nhu Lan, from Phuoc Tri Nunnery, Victoria;

Venerable Bikkhuni Thich Nu Nguyen Khai from Mebourne,

Venerable Bikkhuni Thich Nu Dieu Anh from Brisbane,

Venerable Bikkhuni Thich Nu Hue Khiet from Sydney,

Venerable Bikkhuni Thich Nu Hanh Nguyen from Melbourne,

Venerable Bikkhuni Thich Nu Phuoc Dat from Melbourne,

Venerable Bikkhuni Thich Hanh Thuong,

and Venerable Bikkhuni Thich Nguyen Chi.



The distinguished guests in attendance at the ceremony included the Federal Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, the Hon. Philip Ruddock MP. Minister Ruddock had visited the Quang Duc Temple on a previous occasion about 3 years earlier for the Inauguration Ceremony of the Quang Duc Monastery.



Other distinguished guests in attendance were:Hon. Sang Nguyen, Member of Legislative Council, Victoria Parliament;Ms Kaye Darveniza, MLC, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier on Multicultural Affairs;

Ms Stella Kariofyllidis, Mayor of the City of Moreland;

Mr. Mike Zafiropoulos, Manager, SBS Radio Station, Melbourne;

Mr. Doan Viet Trung, President of the Vietnamese Community in Australia;

Mr. Kevin Kinna, Manager - Multicultural Affairs, Settlement Planning & Information;

Professor and Mrs. Nguyen Ngoc Phach;

Mr Rob Wood, Director of Moral Re-armament Society in Melbourne;

Mr Chris Knauf, Employment & Training Consultant;

Mr Lam Nhu Tang, Deputy Commissioner for Culture and Educational Affairs of the Unified Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation in Australia and New Zealand;

Mrs Rilla Oellien and Mr. Frank Carter from the Buddhist Discussion Centre (Upwey) Ltd., Victoria;

Mr Chris McKeown and Mrs Christine McKeown from the Tibetan Buddhist Society in Victoria,

Mr Quoc Viet, Head of the Vietnamese Language Program, SBS Radio, Melbourne;

Mr Bill Chung, the voluntary builder for the Van Duc Monastery project;

Mr Nguyen Kien Thanh, the Architect; Mr David Nowak and Mr Young, Civil Engineers for the construction project;

Mr Long Quan, Chief Editor, Human Right Vietnamese Weekly in Victoria;

Mr. Brendan, Community News of Moreland City Council;

and approximately 500 Vietnamese and Australian Buddhist laypersons attending.



After the distinguished guests had been introduced and welcomed the National Anthems of Australia and Vietnam were played. The opening speech for the occasion was made by Venerable Thich Tam Phuong, Abbot of the Quang Duc Monastery (in Vietnamese, then English translation). The Venerable Abbot expressed his wishes for this building to be for Buddhist Monks, Nuns and Buddhist laypersons in order that they have a place to practice Buddhism and serve all the community’s purposes.


The Venerable’s full speech is reprinted below:


From April 1975, which was a turning point of the Vietnamese history, many million Vietnamese had to leave their homeland to find freedom. Among these people, there were a lot of Vietnamese Buddhist monks, nuns and lay people who established a new life abroad, and thus, the Vietnamese Buddhist Temples were created in these new countries to meet the religious needs of these people. We, Vietnamese, especially Buddhist followers, whenever we live, whatever we face, we never lose our cultural traditions. The most symbolic is a Vietnamese pagoda, where people can cultivate the spiritual life. The Buddhist pagoda not only carried a sacred duties to shield the spirit of the Vietnamese, it is also considered to be an education centre, a place where people can leave evil and follow the good; to give up the wrong and return to the right; to help people attain perfection through the three principles: Compassion, Wisdom and Courage.


Nowadays, in our situation, living far away from our motherland, the Buddhist Temple has increasingly played an important role in the preservation and development the Vietnamese culture. The harmonious way the Vietnamese life has reflected the Buddhist principle in every way. Throughout Vietnam, every province, every village would have at least one Buddhist Temple. As you know, The Quang Duc Monastery was established in 1990 in a small three-roomed house for worship, religious education and many various Buddhist activities at 30 Bamburg St, Broadmeadows. As time went by, the number of Buddhist believers increased, along with their basic needs. We tried to find a new place for the temple.On 20 of May 1997, thanks to the Buddha's blessing, we were lucky enough to purchase from the Education Department an old school, on an area of nearly 8000 square metres for the cost $350,000. As this is an old primary school, we have had to change a lot of things to turn it into a Buddhist center. Since the new contemporary temple was established, many community activities have been organised.These include Buddhist Doctrine classes, Buddhist youth family, Vietnamese Language school, which all help children to maintain their Buddhist tradition, spirit and Vietnamese culture …these classes are held every weekend. In the meantime, the number of Buddhist followers was increasing , but, the Worship Hall and Youth Activities Hall have limited space and are not large enough to cater for the needs and services of Vietnamese and local communities, and these facilities are steadily deteriorating. We have asked permission to rebuild them and Moreland City Council has already granted us this permission.


The foundation stone laying ceremony today represents the successful beginning of the temple. The building will be constructed in harmony with both the Australian and Vietnamese cultures. The attributes which we would like to build the temple with are: that it will suit the Australian environment, meet the needs for activities of the local Buddhist as well as display Vietnamese Buddhist culture. The total cost of the building project is 1.2 million Australian dollars.



The second speech was given by the Most Venerable Thich Nhu Hue, Chairperson of the National Executive Council, of the Unified Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation in Australia-New Zealand, from Adelaide. The Chairperson explained the sacrifices made to protect the equal rights of religion in Vietnam. He said:


It was the First Republic Government who gave the order to bring down all the Buddhism flags during the Buddha's birthday on May 1963. There were 9 Buddhists killed at the radio broadcasting station in Hue on that day of the 8th of May, 1963. The Buddhists requested the government to carry out only five simple and moderate points, the government of the President Ngô dình Diem showed no attempt to uphold the request, they tried to endlessly suppress the mass instead.

At the views that Buddhists everywhere were oppressed, terrorized, people living in fear and under continuous threatening, the Most Venerable Thích Quang Duc made a vow to burn himself to awaken the consciousness of the government and also to notify the world that the Vietnamese Buddhism was being suppressed and maltreated by a Christian government. The sacred and magical fire from his body brought a bright light to the whole world. The whole world paid a full respect to him, especially in the Buddhist countries, he was praised and admired by everyone. His sacrifice is a great contribution to the modern Vietnamese Buddhism. Mediating on this event, we find that his determination was not for the sake of his individual benefit, it originated from the great basic vow, it was the great compassion which was being soaked in blood, in fire and in suffering. More meaningfully, he used the torch of wisdom to lighten the ignorant, to pray for awakening to the government so that they would not continue to carry out more sins and to avoid the unwholesome results.

Nowadays, the Venerable Abbot Thích Tâm Phuong and Thich Nguyen Tang decided to have the name of the above Vietnamese well-known monk, the monk who fulfilled three virtues: Compassion, Wisdom and Energy, for this monastery. The monastery is the place for religious training and studying for the community who follow the footsteps of The Most Venerable Thích Quang Duc on the way to find out the real truth. It is a significant work and worthy to be praised. On this occasion, I would like to advise that all the Buddhists should heartily contribute in building the Quang Duc Monastery because the former structure was from an old school which is no longer suitable for the religious activities. Moreover, the monastery should bear the characteristics of the national culture, a place of solemn worshipping, a place where those who feel depressed can find peace, those who are with unwholesome heart can be transformed better.

After completion, I hope the Quang Duc Monastery will be one of the Buddhist centers that can provide services throughout Australia.


In his speech The Hon. Philip Ruddock MP, Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs commended the development of the Quang Duc Monastery. He said:


I am delighted to be here for the laying of the foundation stone of this new temple, it is not the first occasion that I have been here, I recall well my visit in 1997 and I have been reminded of it by being presented with delightful photographs for which I thanked the Abbot. I recall well the visit of the Most Venerables and Venerable representatives that have come to Australia before but I, like them delighted to witness the very considerable progress that has made here at Fawkner with the new garden settings, the traditional gate, the walls and of course the many very important symbols Buddhism which will make this a very important and significant site in the future.

This is an occasion to reflect on the future but also to remember the past. This is an occasion to reflect upon what will be done here, on this site in building a new temple because here the community will demonstrate its continuing drive, determination and the hope as it builds for the future. I know that as Buddhists you will also demonstrate the virtues of patience and endurance as you strive to raise the money for this very important new development. But these of course are attributes which your community demonstrates everyday, through having come to Australia many of you through the refugees experience. You have been an example of the way in which people can build their lives afresh and anew.

I am always delighted, not so much as I have to acknowledged Sang Nguyen as a Labour member of parliament, but when I acknowledge that you have Vietnamese representatives in our parliament today. I am delighted at the professionalism that so many have demonstrated in their new careers here in Australia. The government takes the opportunity quite frequently to utilise the skills and attributes of your community.



The next speech was made by Ms. Kaye Darveniza, MLC, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier on Multicultural Affairs. She commended that the Monastery had foreseen the need to develop in anticipation of the growing needs of its community. They have understood that the settlement of the Vietnamese community is an on-going process, requiring forward planning and appropriate solutions, she said:



Today's foundation stone laying ceremony represents the Monastery's efforts to respond to these challenges. It is pro-active in meeting the needs of those it serves. It sets a remarkable example to our many diverse communities in Victoria. The Victorian Government is highly supportive of our many diverse communities. Today's ceremony is evidence of our communities shaping their own future. The continuous development of the Monastery and it’s facilities is a worthwhile and important step forward for all concerned. In future, the building will provide an extensive worship hall, youth activities hall, ... in addition to the existing Buddhist and Vietnamese educational services catering to the traditional, spiritual and cultural needs of the Vietnamese community. It is an incredible development in the Monastery's short life. I wish you well with the progress of the anticipated works and the future of the Quang Duc Monastery in general.


Ms. Stella Kariofyllidis, Mayor of the City of Moreland in her speech said:


...that this ceremony is an important celebration for all citizens of the city of Moreland. Moreland Council has expressed a strong commitment to the pursuit of justice and multiculturalism. The local government of Moreland believes that it has a obligatory role to play in this arena. Moreland will continue to work and help individuals and groups achieve that aim. As we believe that everyone should be able to enjoy the freedom to pursue his or her faith, religion or culture. I commend the work you are doing in the community as being vital for all our future betterment.



Mr Trung Doan Viet, President of the Vietnamese Community in Australia thanked Quang Duc Monastery, which he said had contributed many good things for Australian society. He said:



Having been brought to Australia by the Fraser Government, and since then having been welcome with opened arms by governments of all colours, Labour, Liberal and by the whole community of Australians, I think as an ordinary Australian, I feel that the least we could do in return is to help and enrich the cultural life of Australia, and I am sure you would all agree with me that Quang Duc monastery has been, is and after the Foundation Laying Ceremony today will continue to be a very very significant part of that effort of our community.



At the conclusion of the speeches the twenty-three Buddhist Monks and eight Nuns stood together before the Buddha altar and chanted Buddhist prayers and blessings for the security and protection of the new Monastery buildings and for the well being of the assembly.



Finally, the Foundation Stone for the new Monastery was jointly laid by Most Venerable Thich Nhu Hue, The Head of the Buddhist Congregation; Honorable Philip Ruddock, Federal Minister of Immigration; Mrs. Stella Kariofyllidis, Mayor of Moreland City Council; and Venerable Thich Tam Phuong, Abbot of Quang Duc Monastery.



The first ten of bricks of the new building were jointly laid by the following ten people: Most Venerable Thich Tam Chau; Most Venerable Thich Huyen Ton; Most Venerable Ajahn Viryananda; Mr. Minh Duc Le van Hoi, representative for Vietnamese Buddhist Community; Ms. Kaye Darveniza, MLC; Mr. Mike Zafiropoulos, SBS Radio; Mr. Doan Viet Trung; Mr. Rob Wood; Mr. Quoc Viet, SBS Radio; Mr. Long Quan, Human Right Vietnamese Weekly.



The Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony to build the Meditation Hall and Youth Activity was successfully completed in the midst of the dragon dance and Buddhist entertainment.


The Vice-Abbot Thich Nguyen Tang said that the construction the Quang Duc Monastery will be officially breaking soil on Sunday 4th February, 2001. The construction will be managed by architect Nguyen Kien Thanh and engineer David Nowak. The total cost of construction will be one million two hundred thousand Australian dollars $1,200,000. This is an enormous project for the Buddhist community in Victoria, both in size and financial terms, hence it needs all the contributions and good-hearted willingless from the community in helping to successfully complete this great project.

This article was written by the Venerable Thich Nguyen Tang, Deputy Secretary-General of the Unified Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation, from Quang Duc Monastery, Melbourne, assisted by Frank Carter and Rilla Oellien of the Buddhist Discussion Centre (Upwey) Ltd. Edited by Frank Carter, Pennie White and Evelin Halls.

Last update: 01-02-2002

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