06/23/2008, 00.00
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In Hanoi, an experience of permanent formation for priests

by JB. VU
123 priests, from six dioceses in the north of the country, have taken part in a course that permitted them not only to deepen their understanding and exchange experiences, but also to heighten their priestly fraternity and sense of common participation in the mission of the Church.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - An occasion of deeper understanding, but also of common prayer, and an exchange of experiences and information in view of their common mission.  This was the aim of a course of formation that gathered 123 priests from six dioceses in the north of the country in Hanoi.  The theme of the course, "Working to build a just life".

The encounter lasted for five days, and was subdivided into five groups.  The participants say that the speakers presented the topics in a concise, profound, and be effective manner.  Despite being of different ages, everyone judged the experience positively.  Thanks to their participation, everyone was able to acquire knowledge, humanity, and pastoral formation, according to the guidelines for priests found in "Pastores Dabo Vobis" published by John Paul II in 1992.

Fr Nguyen Ngoc Thanh tells AsiaNews about the organisation, in the district of Can Gio in Ho Chi Minh City, "of short term training courses for 10 young new priests. Through the training, priests have had chances to learn knowledge and skills to work with people, with the young and the children of parish communities. Changing experiences and a Christian attitude are very needed for our young priests. With the right view, we are able to approach and carry out our mission with the laity, the poor and minority people in abanboned comminities". Fr Thanh also recounts that he participated in a small group that visited the minority communities: "We worked with the poor and emigrants, and participated in prayer sessions in parishes, but I think that this would not have been possible without God's protection".

"The courses of interdiocesan formation", says the bishop of Hai Phong, Joseph Vu Van Thien, "is an opportunity for priests to live and interact with one another as brothers, praying with our Church, as well as to bring many benefits of knowledge, spirituality and pastoral activities for the participants, helping them to continue the journey of  priesthood confidently. Because the participants must not only exchange knowledge, but also participation and concern to build up the Church".

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