Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Bishop Anthony Vũ Huy Chương, Bishop of Dalat and president of the Episcopal Commission for the Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, applauds the Holy See and the Pontifical Mission Societies all over the world. In recent years, they have helped the Church in Vietnam greatly improve the quality of priestly formation.
Great joy for the entire Vietnamese Catholic community, both at home and abroad, was the priestly ordination of a local seminarian, Paul Đỗ Văn Tân. On the occasion of the 55th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, in Saint Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis consecrated 16 young people to the priestly life, including the student of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Rome.
Bishop Chương presides over the Episcopal Commission for the Clergy, consecrated life and vocations since 2004. Recently, the organ was strengthened by vice president, Bishop Joseph Đỗ Mạnh Hùng, apostolic administrator. Within the various socio-cultural contexts of Vietnam, the committee assists the bishops, in a collegial and individual way, in promoting, supporting and instructing the Church’s pastoral needs and concerns for the priesthood, the diaconate and the consecrated life. Through biennial conferences, in the country the Commission has constituted a resource of great value for supporting the network of Catholic seminaries, responsible for the responsibility of the formation of priests.
For decades, the regime has severely restricted the recruitment of seminarians; every year, only a certain number of students could be enrolled in diocesan seminars, while candidates and even their families were subjected to scrutiny. This led to clandestine priestly formation and “underground” ordinations. However, in recent times the situation has improved. “Today, the restrictions on the recruitment of seminarians are over, the only limitation we encounter concerns the capacity of major seminaries,” said Bishop Chuong. “At the moment – continues the Bishop of Dalat – in Vietnam there are seven major seminaries (Hà Nội, Vinh, Huế, Nha Trang, Sàigòn, Xuân Lộc and Cần Thơ), which welcomed 2,650 seminarians during the academic year 2017-2018.”
Regarding vocations, the prelate observes that “in the country, the decline in the birth rate and the increase in secularism have caused a reduction in calls.”
“This is clearly visible in metropolitan parishes, while in those in remote areas things seem to be going well,” says the prelate.
However, Bishop Chương believes that in terms of quality, various aspects of priestly formation have improved considerably thanks to the help of the Vatican congregations and the Pontifical Mission Societies of the whole world, in particular the Society for the Foreign Missions of Paris (MEP). Finally, Bishop Chương announced that, financed by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and with the support of the Catholic University of Paris and the MEP, from July 1 to 14, his commission will organize a conference for hundreds of seminar teachers.