The Jesuits celebrate 400th Anniversary of Evangelization in Vietnam (January 18, 1615-2015)

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On January 18, 2014, The Society of Jesus in Vietnam opens its jubilee year to gratefully celebrate 400years of evangelization in Vietnam. Four centuries ago, on January 18 in 1615, two Jesuit Fathers Francesco Buzomi and Diogo Carvalho, and a Brother, Antonio Dias, arrived at central port of Cửa Hàn, which is now called Đà Nẵng, beginning their Christian evangelization in Vietnam. These Jesuits were sent to Vietnam, previously known as Đại Việt, to provide pastoral care for the Japanese Christians who fled from religious persecution in their home country. Since then, the Jesuits continued their mission in Vietnam until the Society of Jesus was worldwide suppressed in 1773. After its restoration in 1814, the Jesuit missionaries returned to Vietnam on May 24, 1957 until now. Thus the celebration of the Jesuits’ four hundred years of evangelization in Vietnam is coincidental with the 200th anniversary of the restoration of the Society of Jesus around the world.

Celebrating this 400th anniversary, Father Provincial Joseph Phạm Thanh Liêm, S.J., and his Jesuits would like to look back the past 400 years with gratitude for the grace of evangelization with the Church in Vietnam and look forward with the renewal spirit for evangelization in our contemporary society. This is an opportunity for all Jesuits in Vietnam and those who have known and been supportive of Spirituality of Saint Ignatius Loyola and the Society of Jesus to renew and reignite the spirit of evangelization. This is also a special occasion for the faithful and all fellow Vietnamese to comprehend the history of Christian evangelization in this country and acknowledge many contributions the Catholic Church had made to our national culture in the history of Vietnam.

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The Jesuits’ jubilee year from January 18, 2014 to January 18, 2015 will compose of seminars on the history of Jesuit missionary in Vietnam and the establishment of the modern Vietnamese script; pilgrimages to the birth place and execution site of Blessed Andrew Phú Yên, the Protomartyr of Vietnam; series of retreats and monthly liturgical celebration at seven Jesuit parishes and chapels to promote the Ignatian Spirituality for the Jesuit friends and the family, apostolic collaborators as well as those who are interested in Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. A year with many spiritual activities will broaden Jesuit sense of mission and deepen our desire for evangelization in this contemporary. The Jesuit Provincial also encourages his young Jesuits to make use of social media to promote Ignatian Spirituality that provides people a pathway to God from whom one finds his or her most strength and happiness.

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Alexandre de Rhodes Centre

In the spirit of this jubilee year, it is necessary to recall a few remarks of the present Jesuit mission in Vietnam as the fruit of 400 years of evangelization. Fifty years after the return of the Jesuits to Vietnam in 1957, the Jesuit Region of Vietnam was elevated to the Province of Saint Francis Xavier on July 14, 2007 with 127 members (41 priests, 44 scholastics/ seminarians, 20 brothers, and 22 novices). The current statistic recorded as of June 1, 2013 indicates the increasing of this young province with 197 members (1 bishop, 46 priests, 99 scholastics/ seminarians, 18 brothers, and 33 novices). If the return of the Jesuits to Vietnam in 1957 brought fruition to the Church in Vietnam with various apostolates in administration of Pius X Pontifical College and Đắc Lộ Television, teaching ministry at different universities in Sài Gòn, student ministry in Sài Gòn and Huế; the expulsion of foreign Jesuits in 1976 brought the Vietnamese Jesuits to a different journey.

29-11-08 14-10-40_0067 Pontifical College Pius X, Dalat

The Jesuit Province of Vietnam does not have any educational or apostolic center as most other Jesuit provinces around the world do. Without a physical place to station their apostolates, the Vietnamese Jesuits set out to any spiritual frontiers to respond to the needs of people from all walks of life, in the cities and in the rural towns, for religious men and women and the laity, providing food for the sick people in the hospital and accompanying the emigrated workers. Regardless of circumstances, many young Jesuits in Vietnam are following the quiet footsteps of their forefathers in solidarity with the local Church and the people of God. This jubilee year will strengthen their zeal for mission and deepen their desire to serve God in all things with unconditional love. The grace-filled journey of the past 400 years of evangelization continues to navigate the Jesuits in Vietnam for the evangelization to our contemporary society if we let ourselves be led by God.

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Vietnam Province 2013

Vũ, S.J.

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