04/24/2007, 00.00
VIETNAM
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The rising number of vocations requires good training for the priesthood

by JB.VU
As more and more young people apply to enter seminaries or join convents, it becomes clear that they often lack basic knowledge. Sometimes even those who teach show the same limitations.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – The rising number of vocations in Vietnam is highlighting the need for candidates to the priesthood to receive parish-level pre-seminary training that would improve their understanding of Catholicism as well as teach them how to pray and raise their awareness about parish life and people.

Every year more and more young men and women express a desire to enter seminaries or join religious order or convents. But the type of education they receive is often haphazard in terms of content and methods.

Father Trung, from Ba Chuong parish, told AsiaNews that “seminarians lack basic knowledge of psychology and social work to be able to approach people. I am not exaggerating when I say that they cannot write an essay in a university-level Vietnamese. Their thinking is old-fashioned and based on backward methods learnt from hoc gia, i.e. scholars who have not exposed their knowledge to that of the outside world. I am concerned about future generations. I know they are eager to learn but they seem to lack the orientation and the right motivation for the ideal life and for service to the Church.”

“In the training for the priesthood,” another priest said, “leading a holy life is important. Generally speaking, young people go to the seminaries unprepared about what a well-rounded Christian life ought to be. They lack the bases of the catechism and [an understanding of the] serious life of prayer.”

An administrator at the Great Seminary of St Joseph agrees that parish-level holy training is necessary before seminary studies.

“With a basis in the catechism they also need to learn about life in order to know how to pray and become familiar with parishioners’ life. Basic training can begin in one’s family, especially by one’s parents. The wider Christian community and priest in the parish can help candidates become good priests in the service of the Church and the people.”

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