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Vietnamese priest has high hopes for vocations in his nation

Young woman admires vietnamese church

noina | Shutterstock

St Joseph's Cathedral (Nha Tho Lon in Vietnamese) in Hanoi, Vietnam.

J-P Mauro - published on 05/06/24

Fr. Joseph Dinh Quang Hoan described a small but devout Catholic community where many young people discern "the religious path."

A Vietnamese priest who is currently studying in Rome has high hopes for vocations in his homeland. Father Joseph Dinh Quang Hoan of the Diocese of Thai Binh painted a picture of a small, but devout Catholic community in which many of the young people are “willing to commit themselves to the religious path.”

In an interview with Omnesmag, Fr. Joseph explained that he began to discern his vocation as a priest when he was just 12 years old. At that time, a Catholic seminarian visited his community and his example moved the young man to delve deeper into his faith.

Now, as a priest, he is studying to become a teacher so that he can train more priests in his diocese, where they are currently constructing the major seminary of the Sacred Heart of Thai Binh. When he finishes his studies in Rome, Fr. Joseph is expected to return to work at the new seminary. 

He explained that the Catholic community in Vietnam is a religious minority among 54 different ethnic religious groups in the nation. These religions and belief systems have coexisted in his region for centuries, with the people generally holding somewhat tolerant views of other faiths. Still, as a small and growing group, Catholics do their best to help out in order to keep up a good impression with the other faith groups, he said

“…we tend to participate in social and charitable activities that benefit the community at large, regardless of our religious affiliation. This fosters a good impression from others about Christian communities, particularly the Catholic community.”

While Fr. Joseph noted that the region he grew up in was largely free of conflict between religious groups, there have still been challenges, “such as atheistic ideology, prejudice towards Catholics, and inaccurate understanding of the Church’s doctrine.”

Regardless of difficulties, he said that the Church in Vietnam has been enjoying growth every day. He did, however, note that one particular challenge, in regards to reaching young people, is their tendency to gravitate towards material things

“Moreover, the market economy and relativistic social theory have caused many young Catholics to have incorrect thoughts, leading them to worship material values and to forget the faith that our ancestors passed on with their precious blood.” 

As for the Catholic Church’s future in Vietnam, Fr. Joseph expects it to continue to grow by great strides in the coming years. While Catholics only account for about 7.4% of the Vietnamese population, this is still around 7 million Catholics. He also noted a surplus of priests – 2,668 priests for 2,228 parishes – which highlights the openness of young Vietnamese Catholics to discern a possible vocation: 

“Many young people are willing to commit themselves to the religious path, becoming priests and religious to serve in the land of Vietnam, as well as to undertake missionary missions around the world. In my diocese of Thai Binh, a small diocese, we currently have about 100 seminarians and many religious, nuns and brothers. They are the future of the Church.”

Read the full interview with Fr. Joseph Dinh Quang Hoan at Omnesmag.

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