Updated: July 29, 2021 02:48 AM GMT
Bishop Alfonse Nguyen Huu Long ordains priests at Xa Doai Cathedral in Nghe An province on July 25. (Photo: UCA News)
New priests from a northern Vietnamese diocese with an abundance of consecrated vocations will be sent to serve a peripheral diocese with a severe lack of priests.
On July 25, Bishop Alfonse Nguyen Huu Long of Vinh ordained 34 priests aged 32-50 at Xa Doai Cathedral in Nghe An province.
Emeritus Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop and many priests joined the ordination attended by relatives of the new priests.
The new priests celebrated their thanksgiving Masses in their home parish churches on the following day but did not hold parties due to coronavirus restrictions.
"Today you are ordained priests and sent to go out for evangelization and bring back good fruits to God," Bishop Long told them.
Priests are those who continue missions of the apostles as they are chosen, called and sent out by Jesus, he said, adding that evangelization is always the Church's top priority.
We are blessed with plenty of priests, so we must share with other dioceses who lack priests
The 68-year-old prelate said Vinh Diocese is blessed with a great abundance of priestly and religious vocations. Four local congregations and societies have 1,771 professed members. Thousands of join various orders and societies in Vietnam and abroad.
In June, 117 seminary candidates took seminary entrance examinations and 30 were chosen and will enter St. Francis Xavier Major Seminary in September.
Bishop Long said local Catholics are delighted about the grace of consecrated vocations as many other dioceses report a decrease in young vocations.
The bishop, who serves as head of the Episcopal Commission for Evangelization of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Vietnam, said young priests must be engrossed in volunteering to work in remote areas.
He said Hung Hoa Diocese, where he had served as auxiliary bishop for five and a half years, suffers a severe lack of priests. The diocese covering 10 northern provinces used to have only 12 priests serving 200,000 Catholics. Emeritus Bishop John Vu Tat of Hung Hoa used to call on other dioceses to lend priests to his diocese but only one priest from Bui Chu Diocese was sent to work there.
Bishop Long, who is known for his dedication to evangelization work, said he had also invited young priests from other places to spend some years carrying out evangelization work in the country’s largest diocese.
It was sad that some priests registered to go but their bishops refused, he said.
"Now I strongly decide that our diocese will share half of these new priests as Fidei Donum or the Gift of Faith with Hung Hoa Diocese," Bishop Long said in his homily.
"We are blessed with plenty of priests, so we must share with other dioceses who lack priests. Sharing what we have with others in this hard time is very meaningful."
Vinh Diocese covering Nghe An province has 213 priests including the newly ordained ones.
You should be ecstatic to show your grand passion for God and eager to bring back souls to him
The head of the Society of Missions of Vietnam said Bishop Peter Nguyen Van Vien, apostolic administrator of Hung Hoa Diocese, warmly welcomed the gift of faith from Vinh Diocese.
He urged the new priests to carry out their missions for all people according to God's will.
"You should be ecstatic to show your grand passion for God and eager to bring back souls to him. You have only one wish — that is to follow and do after God's will,” said Bishop Long.
"We wish you to sacrifice yourselves to worship and glorify God until your death. You should not worry about your daily needs but bravely overcome suffering to bring God's love to other people."
The bishop gave the new priests statues of St. Joseph as gifts and asked them to seek support from Jesus' foster father in their lives.