By Daniel Tay

SINGAPORE - Catholics studying overseas not only have to adjust to the new environment, but also have to contend with finding a new community of friends to grow together in faith.

Catholic Overseas Students Down Under (COSDU) is a Catholic society based in the University of Melbourne. Its members strive to nourish each other's spiritual lives while fostering a sense of community. 

COSDU was born on Mar 13, 1987 with the help of Blessed Sacrament Sister Carol Hogan and officially enlisted into the University of Melbourne Student Union Clubs and Society. Sister Carol retired after 16 years working with international students in Melbourne - most of them are from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and other Asian countries - and in August 2002 Franciscan Sister Theresa Ryan was chosen by Sister Carol to run the society.

Today, COSDU is the only Catholic society in the University of Melbourne. Its members come mainly from the University of Melbourne, but there are some from RMIT, Trinity College and other institutions in Melbourne.

Besides the monthly first Friday Mass, COSDU members regularly meet for Friday sessions geared towards their spiritual development. Frequent social activities help members to know each other better, and a social justice ministry helps members to look into the needs of the wider world. There is also an annual Easter Camp which never fails to leave members spiritually rejuvenated while enjoying a deeper sense of fellowship.

Malaysian Lin Ming Yin, 24, graduated in 2006 with a degree in Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery of Medical Science. She says that being a part of COSDU helped in her faith journey during her university studies in Melbourne.

"COSDU certainly has had an enormous role in shaping my university experience and has been a constant source of support. Upon graduating and looking back on my university life, it is the fond memories and lifelong friendships built during COSDU that really are the most important things I take away with me.

"Although I had initially joined COSDU with the sole intention of serving in a Catholic group, I have gained so much more than that - when in need of anything, be it help with schoolwork, moving house, celebrating birthdays or graduations, someone to go to church or on trips with; or simply just a good yarn after a long week in university, COSDU has been there."

Catholics from Singapore and Malaysia going to study in Melbourne can contact Sister Theresa Ryan, COSDU's spiritual director and University of Melbourne Chaplain, at (+61) 8344 4825 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. More information about COSDU is available at www.cosdu.blogspot.com.

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