ASIA/VIETNAM - The legacy of Pope John XXIII shapes studies at the Academy in Vinh

Tuesday, 11 June 2024 university   students   formation   local churches   pope  

Vinh (Agenzia Fides) - Humility, goodness, listening, gentleness, attention to the "little ones" and the "last" must characterize the path of study and integral and missionary formation, in the sign of patience and in-depth study. This is the goal of the "Intercongregational Academy of Saint John XXIII" in the diocese of Vinh, in northern Vietnam, which is celebrating the tenth anniversary of its foundation (2014-2024), guided by a vision and mission of love for humanity inspired by the "good Pope".
In the ten years of its existence, eight congregations and associations have sent their members to study at the Academy and, at the end of May 2024, a total of 763 students are enrolled, of whom 679 have already graduated. "These ten years in the company of John XXIII have been a journey of blessings, and all those involved are grateful for the gifts they have received," reports Sister Maria Dieu Huyen, a nun from a local congregation in Vinh who attends the institute.
The Diocese of Vinh has a long history with many difficulties. During the process of development and institutionalization, the Catholic community of Vinh has faced various challenges, one of which today is the human and Christian formation path for consecrated persons and lay people. The prospect of founding an academy and assembling a team of consecrated persons for the missionary work of the diocese was a dream that came true after many years of preparation: in September 2014, Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop, then Bishop of the Diocese of Vinh, founded the "Intercongregational Academy of St. John XXIII" with the aim of "improving the quality of knowledge, faith and pastoral care for the students of religious orders, ecclesial associations and individual believers": an institute that, with its perspective of missionary commitment, is fully integrated into the network and work of "Christian education" of the Vietnamese Church.
In the first years, due to a lack of facilities, the Academy's course took place in the premises of the Congregation of the Lovers of the Holy Cross in Vinh. Since 2021, the institution has moved to the campus of the Pastoral Center of the Diocese of Vinh, where there are three classrooms, a library room, a computer room, a chapel, various study rooms and rooms for recreational activities. Under the supervision of the diocesan bishop and an executive committee, the academy selects teachers, spiritual directors and supervisors to provide a solid foundation for teaching. So far, the academy's students are mainly religious sisters from various congregations and members of ecclesiastical associations. Over the years, "the Academy has grown in all dimensions, trying to contribute to the missionary work of the Church in the name and spirit of Pope John XXIII," said Sister Maria Dieu Huyen. "This place has truly become a family, a meeting place for spirituality and a center for spiritual paths, according to the dynamic of 'giving and receiving'.
The value of the Gospel shines in the Academy. The faculty and all the staff work to form the apostolic soul and prepare the missionary disciples for their mission. The students listen diligently to the truths and beauties revealed to them in order to appreciate them and fulfill their mission," she notes. "Study is not intended to make God an object to be analyzed, but to help students to understand him, love him and join him in faith and prayer," for the "following of Christ" in the sign of a deep intimacy with God. The formation path at the Academy allows one to "discover the beauty of faith in life, to witness and spread the Gospel in the places where they are sent to fulfill their mission in the world," concludes the nun.
The Academy recalls Pope Francis' letter to the faithful of Vietnam of September 2023, in which the Pope calls them to "respond effectively to the needs of daily life and participate in the building of the common good in all areas of the country's social life" and "to put into practice the teaching of Jesus, to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth: 'Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father' (Mt 5:16)."
The Pope concluded his letter with the words of Saint John XXIII in "Pacem in Terris". He hopes that people "discover, in the deepest challenges of their common humanity, that among them reigns not fear but love", which is expressed "in faithful, multifaceted cooperation". During his recent visit to Vietnam last April, the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Richard Gallagher, also expressed his confidence that "the Vietnamese Catholic community will be able to contribute even more to the development of the country", including in the field of education. The commitment to higher education is also expressed today through the "Catholic Institute of Vietnam", the first Catholic university in the country, officially inaugurated in Ho Chi Minh City in 2016, recognized by the Holy See and the Vietnamese government, open to priests, religious and lay people, and confers the title of Bachelor, Licentiate and Doctor in Theology. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 11/6/2024)