ASIA NEWS REPORT: A six-day meeting to establish program guidelines. Need for priests who work in rural areas and among the isolated communities, to help the faithful on the road to a global human development.
Xuan Loc (AsiaNews) - The ‘Year of religious life", promoted by the bishops of Vietnam, aims to help solve one of the problems emerging within the Church in the country; the need for priests in rural areas, and areas of ethnic minorities, to support the growth of the faithful. This issue was also discussed at a conference held June 4 to 9, by the Committee for Religious and seminarians of the Vietnamese bishops' conference. The meeting brought together the heads of the major seminaries in the country who met in the Diocesan offices of Xuan Loc. The meeting was attended by 49 people, including professors and directors of seminaries in the country. Seminary reports were presented and the key themes for the preparation of priests in field discussed, such as human experience, the sacraments and pastoral activities, with particular attention to the importance of communion in the seminaries.
The purpose of the meeting was to establish guidelines for "The years of religious life" launched by the Vietnamese bishops' conference. The importance and objectives of the Year were emphasized, indicating the following themes: human formation, knowledge and preparation for pastoral service and education in addition to the sacred, and parameters for the assessment of the year of religious life were set. Fr. Joseph Đỗ Mạnh Hùng, general secretary of the Committee for Religious and seminarians, spoke about the preparation for the priesthood in Vietnam, outlining a program that the bishops have approved and ratified.
Bishop Joseph Đức Định Đạo told AsiaNews: "I am very concerned about the formation of future priests, on how we can help seminarians to love Jesus, to trust in Jesus and follow him with joy. All Christians certainly need the love of Jesus and this is why the priests should be an example to follow. Formation does not stop at theological concepts, we must think and live like Jesus. "
Vietnam has opened the door to social and economic development since 1987. In the context of the economic market, many Catholics have emigrated from their impoverished communities of northern and central Vietnam. Now more priests are needed to serve in parishes, priests who work for the rights of communities and contribute to a stable social and economic development of the country.
For some time the Church has been present in the social fabric and contributed to development. In 1993 the Archdiocese of Hanoi counted nearly 2 million members out of a population of nearly 34 million, the Archdiocese of Hue had 553 thousand people out of a population of 10.5 million people, and the Archdiocese of Saigon had 2.2 million members out of a population of 25.8 million people.
Until 2008, the Vietnamese Catholic Church had 3541 priests and 6.187 million faithful, out of a population of 86.16 million people (about 7% of the population). In 2011 there are about seven million laity, gathered around 7 thousand churches, with over 4 thousand priests. But lay people and minority groups living in remote rural areas lack of priests to who work with them and help them achieve an integral human development.
During his visit to the seminary of the diocese of Xuan Loc on 1st May, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, the Holy See's representative in Vietnam, said: "We need many priests, but priests should be holy, the example of Jesus, proclaim the Good News and be the pastors of the community that God entrusts to them. Hence the exhortation to cultivate your spiritual life and to continue your education to do the work that God has entrusted to you. "