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    » 09/04/2013, 00.00

    VIETNAM

    Vinh: record applications to enter major seminary



    Some 410 young people took part on 1 August in aptitude tests. Forty from among them will be selected to study to become priests. Female vocations are also growing. The basic tests are designed to know the motivations behind such a choice and hold back those who are motivated by "worldly ambitions."

    Hanoi (AsiaNews/EDA) - The priesthood and the consecrated life are exerting a growing fascination among young Vietnamese Catholics as evinced by the high number of candidates applying to enter the Major Seminary of Vinh-Thanh (which covers the northern dioceses of Vinh and Thanh Hoa). Last month saw in fact a peak, with 410 men asking to write the entrance exam for the 2013-2014 academic year.

    More importantly, such a high number involves an institution located in northern Vietnam, a traditional stronghold of the Vietnamese Communist Party, which for decades has used every means at its disposal to discourage religious practice and crush religious freedom. Catholics, who have often been associated with the West, have suffered persecution and abuse under Communist rule as shown by the life of Card Van Thuan and other priests.

    For years, Vietnam's seminaries required candidates to undergo aptitude tests and exams at the level of each diocese and religious congregation, in both South and North, in order to carry out an initial screening and assess qualifications.

    In the ecclesiastical province of Hanoi, there are four major seminaries. The one in the capital was the first to reopen in 1987 after the Communist government shut down it following reunification in 1975.

    A few months later, a seminary reopened in Saigon, in the south, even though the conditions imposed by the authorities were very strict and news admissions were allowed only every six years.

    Over time, things have changed and the new seminaries of Vinh-Thanh, Bui Chu, and Thai Binh were set up in the North.

    This year, the diocese of Vinh (which has about 500,000 members) broke all records in terms of candidates to the priesthood.

    On 1 August, 410 candidates from the diocese's three provinces took the entrance exam. After morning Mass, they wrote three tests to assess their level of knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, Christian spirituality, general culture and society. This was followed by one-to-one interviews to learn more about their wish to join the consecrated life. Only 40 will be eventually selected for the programme, which is set to begin in a few weeks time.

    The number of female vocations is also a measure of the vitality and dynamism of the Vietnamese Church. In Vinh, the Congregation of the Sisters Lovers of the Cross organised exams for future novices on 27 July, with 65 candidates ranging in age between 18 and 23 admitted to the one-year programme in 2013-2014 to vet further their vocation.

    Although the high number of candidates to the priesthood is a sign of the vitality of the Vietnamese Church, Catholic leaders still want to examine closely the reasons that motivate young people to want to dedicate their life to Christ and others.

    Sometimes, the desire to wear the cassock is based more on "worldly ambitions" than a genuine spirit of service. This is why their motivations must be evaluated, and then adjusted, refined and purified along an educational path shaped by teachers, family, priests and other seminarians.

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    See also

    28/08/2013 VIETNAM
    Fr. Dominique, sowing seeds of faith in Vietnam amid war and Communist persecution
    In the '70s, at the time of the conflict, he led his community to a safe place and founded a new parish. Imprisoned by the regime authorities, he was able to keep the "spirit" alive following the example of Card. Van Thuan. His witness led to several vocations, which have enabled the diocese of Saigon to grow.

    04/12/2009 VIETNAM-VATICAN
    Expectations and hopes in the Church for the visit of Vietnamese President Triet to the Pope
    For the Catholic community in the country, 6.5% of the population, the situation has improved in recent years, although there is no full freedom of religion. Father Theodore Mascarenhas, an official of the Pontifical Council for Culture, reviews the situation in a conversation with AsiaNews.

    27/08/2009 VIETNAM
    Catholics in the United States in solidarity with the Church in Vietnam
    A U.S. delegation, led by Msgr. William Stephen Skylstad of Spokane visited Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, My Tho, Hue and the Marian Shrine of La Vang. The invitation to return for the Jubilee of 2011. Vietnamese Catholics in the United States saddened by reports of persecution at Tam Toa.

    22/02/2008 VATICAN
    The “missionary dimension” concerns the whole Church and each Christian, says Pope
    For World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Benedict XVI stresses that since the start of the Gospel story, the apostles offered people food to appease hunger and food for eternal life.

    24/05/2010 CHINA - VATICAN
    At Sheshan and throughout China we pray for unity and priestly vocations
    The World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, decreed by Benedict XVI, official and underground Catholics pray for greater unity between communities and for a solution to the relationship between China and Vatican soon. Moreover they pray for strength for the young, bishops and faithful to evangelize the continent, which is increasingly thirsty for God



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