Vietnam Church marks 50 years of broadcasting the Gospel

Govt ban forces Vietnamese clergy, lay people to go to Manila to help kick off Radio Veritas Asia's anniversary celebrations
Vietnam Church marks 50 years of broadcasting the Gospel

Vietnamese religious and lay people from around Asia join the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Radio Veritas Asia in Manila on April 9. (Photo by Jimmy Domingo)

Vietnamese Catholics have helped kick off Radio Veritas Asia’s (RVA’s) 50th anniversary celebrations with a call to reach out to the widest possible audience in their country where religious freedom faces frequent challenges.

The call took place at a special anniversary event organized for them at RVA’s headquarters in Philippine capital Manila on April 9. 

Some 350 Vietnamese priests, nuns and lay people attended the event to launch week-long celebrations marking the Catholic radio station’s golden anniversary.

The contingent were forced to mark the anniversary in Manila because restrictions imposed by Vietnam’s communist government prevented them from doing so back home

Vietnamese Bishop Joseph Nguyen Tan Tuoc of Phu Cuong, who led the Eucharist celebration, said the event was a chance “to look back and reflect on our [Vietnam’s] experience in proclaiming the Gospel over the last 50 years.” 

The prelate, who heads the Vietnamese bishops’ office of social communications, said the digital platform that RVA has recently adopted has brought more opportunities. 

He said RVA’s Vietnamese service could now reach out to a larger number people across the country, especially the young through social media.

The prelate said the church radio station has played a huge role in the evangelization of the Vietnamese people despite the challenges that have faced them. 

“Before, the situation for the Catholic Church in Vietnam was really difficult, but now it looks like it is developing,” said the prelate. 

There was a time when Vietnamese people were “not allowed to listen to RVA programs,” he told 

The Catholic Church established RVA on April 11, 1969, to address the impact of communism in countries such as China, Vietnam and North Korea. 

RVA Vietnamese service coordinator Father John Baptist Traw Thanh The said: “The reason why we are here today is because of the rise of communism during the 1950s.” 

He said the Vietnamese Catholic Church had been experimenting with radio since 1967, just before RVA was formally established.    

The radio also aimed to reach out to people in other countries as a response to the Second Vatican Council, which had urged the use of media to nourish the faithful in Asia.

Lay missionary Le Thi Tuyet An said she became very interested about the faith and the teachings of the Church because “I used to listen to RVA programs with my grandparents when I was a kid.”

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She said the programs are important to Vietnamese lay people because “we don’t have a regular means to learn more or to deepen our understanding about the faith. We were able to see a wider image of the Catholic Church … through Radio Veritas Asia.”  

In October 2015, RVA as a whole faced the crucial decision whether to remain as a shortwave broadcasting network or fully migrate into online broadcasting. It decided to reinvent itself and adapt to the advancement of communication technology. 

In July 2018, RVA abandoned the old airwaves that carried the many voices that served as instruments of hope and catalysts of change to many Asian Catholics.

During the April 9 event, RVA general manager Father Victor Sadaya assured Asian Catholics that “the radio will continue its mission” of spreading the Gospel through digital media. 

“The Church has adapted to necessary changes, especially the advancement of communication technology. This has allowed us to remain broadcasting,” said Sadaya. 

The digital platform “allows us to use mediums and instruments that would help us better serve audiences of different ages, cultures, races and beliefs,” he added. 

Radio Veritas Asia broadcasts in 22 languages. These language services are now fully online using multimedia platforms.

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