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Vietnam's new priests inspired to missionary zeal

Church declares 2022 the year of evangelization as part of a three-year pastoral plan

UCA News reporter, Ho Chi Minh City

UCA News reporter, Ho Chi Minh City

Published: December 06, 2021 06:40 AM GMT

Updated: December 06, 2021 09:46 AM GMT

Vietnam's new priests inspired to missionary zeal

Parents offer chasubles to new priests at Hoang Nguyen Church in Hanoi on Dec. 3. (Photo courtesy of tonggiaophanhanoi.org)

A batch of new priests from two northern dioceses in Vietnam are expected to spread the word and bring Catholic values to local people.

Archbishop Joseph Vu Van Thien of Hanoi ordained 15 priests at Hoang Nguyen Church in the capital on Dec. 3, the feast of St. Francis Xavier, patron of all foreign missions.

The new priests are in their 30s, except one who is 57. They had graduated in a variety of disciplines including electronics, English, French, history, information technology, international relations, linguistics, psychology, sociology and Vietnamese studies from local universities before finishing eight-year courses in physiology and theology at St. Joseph Major Seminary.

Archbishop Thien urged the priests to follow the examples of evangelization of St. Francis, who devoted himself to bringing the Catholic faith to numerous people across Asia and died of a life-threatening fever before reaching China.

The prelate said the local Church had declared 2022 the year of evangelization in its three-year pastoral plan. The two previous years were of communion and holiness.

Priests around the world commit themselves to consoling and looking after the poor and ethnic minorities, and keeping up the vivid image of Jesus, who came to save all.

Noting that no man is indispensable, he called on the priests to work with laypeople to make pastoral activities bear fruit

"That is the beauty of mission in priests' lives. We pray together for our priests to become good pastors who heal the faithful's spiritual and physical wounds," he said, adding that the priests’ missions stem from divine mercy.

Archbishop Thien warned that priests often preach themselves, boasting their erudition, and do not highlight Christ's vivid image through their lives and services.

He said priests who freely receive God's grace should also freely give back to their brothers and sisters. They should look to Jesus as the goal of their life.

Noting that no man is indispensable, he called on the priests to work with laypeople to make pastoral activities bear fruit.

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The new priests celebrated their first Masses at their home parishes on Dec. 4 and will start their services as priest assistants in their parishes on Dec. 12.

Hanoi Archdiocese has 203 priests serving 171 parishes with 320,000 Catholics.

Bishop Joseph Chau Ngoc Tri of Lang Son Cao Bang ordained nine priests at Cua Nam Cathedral in Lang Son on Dec. 3.

Bishop Tri praised the new priests from other dioceses and congregations based outside the diocese to work with local people, including ethnic groups with strange customs. They follow St. Francis Xavier’s example by sowing the seeds of faith in the mountainous provinces of Lang Son and Cao Bang.

The prelate asked them to cooperate with him in putting their minds, hearts and hands in serving all people. “If you fail to approach people, especially followers of other faiths, those who have different political views, and the marginalized, you will lose the ability to recognize your vocations and missions.”

He urged them to take good care of local children and youths with fatherly hearts, and greatly respect their bodies and innocence like angels. “In doing so, you really are wise and loyal servants of the Church,” he said.

Thanks to this shining example, we gain enough strength to gather all people to come to God

Bishop Tri asked the new priests to follow senior priests to work in remote areas in the peripheral diocese since the nobler their vocations, the more challenging their missions.

He said they should pay much attention to building up fraternity among local priests and confreres, and have clear friendliness with other religious and seminarians, their younger generations.     

“We are different from families and hometowns but we all choose this diocese as our spiritual family and hometown so we are brothers and sisters with one another in Christ and one church family. Thanks to this shining example, we gain enough strength to gather all people to come to God,” he concluded.

Bishop Peter Nguyen Van De plans to ordain 15 priests and 24 transitional deacons on Dec. 8. Two days later, Archbishop Joseph Vu Van Thien, apostolic administrator of Hai Phong, will ordain eight priests. 

Although this year has been ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic, 10 northern dioceses will have 137 new priests and 43 transitional deacons.

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