The large number of aspirants and a shortage of space and teachers mean the seminary of St Joseph of the archdiocese of Hanoi must make a selection. The main aim is to form better priests.
Hanoi (AsiaNews) In years to come, the major seminary of St Joseph will carry out an admission exam for candidates from the dioceses of Bac Ninh, Bui Chu, Ha Noi, Hai Phong, Hung Hoa, Lang Son, Phat Diem and Thai Binh. The dioceses are free to choose their own candidates but they must base their criteria on general guidelines of the local Church and on the advice of seminary directors.
As from 2005, Mgr Ngo Quang Kiet, archbishop of Hanoi, reached an agreement with the Religious Committee of the government that every year, all aspirants would be admitted. Previously, authorization was only given for 10 to 15 candidates every two years.
One candidate told AsiaNews: "We study catechism, documents of the seminary, the Bible, the Gospel, Vietnamese literature and a foreign language. I have been waiting all day. Before the exams, we all attended Mass together."
The priest overseeing the exam said: "We are happy to have many seminarians. Other than testing knowledge and skills, we are also very careful about the candidate's moral uprightness and the motivations. Each parish has sent candidates. Thanks to this selection process, the quality of education and preparation in St Joseph major seminary will be enhanced.
"The northern dioceses of the country face problems like lack of space and of local teachers. But the archdiocese of Hanoi and the St Joseph seminary want to form future priests to help people in rural and hilly areas, where poor and dispossessed people live."
The message of Pope Benedict XVI for World Youth Day, of prayer for vocations, could well apply to the Church of Vietnam: "We are called to live as brothers and sisters of Jesus, to feel like sons and daughters of the same Father, who brings love to each one."