05/05/2020, 17.02
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Vietnam is rich in vocations, adaptable to the current moment

by Paul Nguyen Hung

In 2019 the Church of Vietnam had 5,000 priests and more than 5,000 seminarians and students, as well as 307 congregations and religious associations for a total of 33,087 religious, including 28,099 nuns, 4,988 men religious, and 1,670 religious order priests. Many priests, religious and even bishops work abroad.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Last Sunday, 3 May, was World Day of Prayer for Vocation. On this occasion, Bishop Anphong (Alphonse) Nguyễn Hữu Long of Vinh shared his thoughts about it with young Vietnamese.

"Everyone is given a mission by the Lord,” he said. “We can choose a religious life or marriage. We respond to God’s will with all our freedom, our faith and our generous commitment ".

Ordained bishop on 22 December 2018 by Pope Francis, Bishop Hữu was assigned to the Diocese of Vinh on 1 February 2019. He now chairs the Evangelisation Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam for the 2019-2022 period.

“All vocations are noble, as long as you discern exactly what God wants for you,” the prelate said to Vietnamese priests and religious. “The greatness of the vocation of priests and religious is that they do not live for themselves, but live with God for others (cf. Rom 14:7-9). At the same time, throughout their lives, they honour God and seek salvation for others.”

Studies by the Catholic Church have shown that there are many priestly and religious vocations in Vietnam. This abundance is certainly not spontaneous, but is the result of many positive factors such as the moral atmosphere of the family and the friendly social environment.

The development of priestly and religious vocations is one of the things the Catholic Church strives for, but quantitative increases also requires greater focus on quality.

Through the examples of Vietnamese martyrs, many have faced hundreds of challenges and died for their faith. After just 500 years, the seeds of faith have sprouted almost everywhere in the country. Vocations have multiplied and the footsteps of the Vietnamese missionaries can be found everywhere.

The text Giáo Trình Hội Nhập Văn Hóa Công Giáo Việt Nam (Vietnamese Catholic Cultural Integration Programme) shows that in 2019 the Catholic Church of Vietnam had about seven million members, or seven per cent of the population, with 5,000 priests and more than 5,000 seminarians and students.

Data from the Religious Committee of the Bishops' Conference indicate that, as of early 2019, the local Church had 307 religious congregations and associations with a total of 33,087 religious, including 28,099 nuns and 4,988 religious, with 1,670 religious order priests.

Many Vietnamese men and women religious have gone abroad. many Vietnamese priests note that "the Vietnamese Catholic Church is exporting vocations to other countries,” especially the United States where more than 950 Vietnamese priests are present across the country.

Some of these “priests are from congregations like Dòng Đồng Công, which has around 100 members. Then there are the Order of Redemptorists, the Missionaries of the Divine Word (SVD), the Jesuit order and the Dominican order, etc.

“Some Vietnamese bishops also abroad, like Bishop Vincent Nguyễn Văn Long in Australia, Bishop Vincent Nguyễn Mạnh Hiếu in Canada, Bishop Toma Nguyễn Thái Thành in the United States, and Archbishop Peter Nguyễn Văn Tốt, former nuncio of the Holy See in Sri Lanka.”

Initially, when Vietnamese priests and religious were sent to the mission, they encountered many difficulties and achieved modest results compared to what they wanted. One of the most obvious difficulties for priests and religious was the language barrier. But everyone can overcome this first challenge.

For Bishop Hữu, “To renew evangelisation in Vietnam, Pope Francis in Evangeli Gaudium (25-33) said to look to the future. We need to think about things to do, areas of interest to develop, and ways to adapt evangelisation to the current moment in Vietnam.”

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