Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – A year after its inauguration, the Vietnam Catholic Academy (Học viện Công giáo Việt Nam, VCA) in Đà Lạt, capital of Lâm Đồng Province (Tây Nguyên or Central Highlands region) will be open again for business on Thursday, 14 September.
"We are truly grateful to God for all the blessings he has granted the VCA during the academic year 2016-2017,” Fr Nguyên Cao Dung, VCA secretary general, told Églises d'Asie. “We are generally satisfied with the first year, since we have reached almost all of our goals."
On 6 August 2015, Vietnamese authorities gave permission to the Catholic Church to open a national college.
Mgr Giuse (Joseph) Nguyễn Chí Linh, archbishop of Huế and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Vietnam, noted that before 1975 Vietnam had two Catholic colleges, in Đà Lạt and Saigon. Thus, the VCA was nothing new, he said, but a "return" of what had been confiscated by civil authorities at the time.
A year later (2016), the VCA offered an annual preparatory course for a degree in Canon Law (equivalent to a master), after which students could choose between dogmatic or biblical theology.
Some 37 candidates took the VCA entrance exam in July 2016, and 19 enrolled with 18 completing the year.
In September 2016, VCA Dean Mgr Giuse (Joseph) Đinh Đức Đạo said that he wanted to expand the academic programme into other fields so that the VCA could "gradually develop and meet the needs of the Church in Vietnam as well as in the region."
On that occasion, he noted that the archbishop of Nagasaki (Japan) and the president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Laos and Cambodia were planning to send some students to Vietnam.
In the upcoming academic year, Mgr Đinh’s wishes will be partially fulfilled. In addition to the 18 students in the Canon Law degree, 42 new students will enrol in the bachelor degree in Canon Law and 11 others will be taking preparatory courses for the licentiate in Canon Law.
The students include 15 women religious and nine lay people. Some 80 applicants took the entrance exam on 7 and 8 June.