The fruit of perseverance

Fifteen years ago, the first Oblates came to this S-shaped land—Vietnam. They brought along some seeds containing the Oblate spirit. However, before these seeds could bear fruit, our pioneer brothers had to go through careful preparations, so that the missionary work in Vietnam could reap success. In these early years, every decision was the result of a common discernment, together with their endeavors and Oblate daring. The first Oblates who deserve a mention are Fr. Roland Jacques (incumbent Vicar Provincial for the Vietnam Mission), Fr. Emmanuel (incumbent Mission Superior), Fr. Vincent (former Mission Superior and incumbent member of the Provincial Council of France), Fr. James (former Scholasticate Superior and Novice Master), Fr. Francis Xavier (former Scholasticate Superior), Fr. Joseph (former Pre-novitiate Superior), Fr. Joseph and Fr. Peter (Canada). These Oblate pioneers chose Hochiminh City as the best place to establish and build up the first Oblate communities in Vietnam.

To initiate the Vietnam Mission, the first generation had to face many struggles. In those early days, the Oblates as well as the local candidates had no stable place to stay: they had to rent their accommodation, and change it continuously for “sensitive” motives. Meanwhile they willingly accepted to serve the minority ethnics, the migrants, the sick, young people, etc. Additionally, our Oblate confreres responded to the call of a couple of bishops to teach catechism in parishes, or devote themselves to youth ministry. At the same time, the Vietnam Mission needed to get organized for the crucial task of forming the young Oblates and promoting our vocation—accepting candidates who had the desire to live the Oblate Charism and follow the Founder, Saint Eugene de Mazenod. Through the challenges of that situation they got a sense of the early days of our Congregation, when we were still a small group of “Provence Missionaries”. In the same way, these pioneering Oblates were ready to work even harder, and to remain much humbler.

With the help of God’s Providence, under the protection of Mother Mary and through the intercession of the Founder, the Vietnam Mission today numbers more than 70 Oblates in vows; they come from most regions in the country. Their missionary field has been expanding continuously: today they reach up to 6 dioceses. The head office is in Binh Duong Province; there the local government recognizes officially the Oblates as a religious congregation. In the same province, the Oblates contribute to the social welfare by running an orphanage – that 73 boys and girls call their home. The Oblates of Vietnam have established a full range of formation communities, from the come-and-see communities all the way up to the Scholasticate. Faithful to the Oblate charism, to live their mission they commit themselves chiefly to serving in remote regions, difficult and arduous places where there is a lack of pastors. They have also brought the Spirit of Saint Eugene de Mazenod to share it with the Vietnamese laity.

Perseverance is one of the vows that we profess when we become Oblates. Practicing the virtue of Perseverance helps the Oblates to bear abundant fruit wherever they serve. Our Vietnam Mission is a living example of this.

Dao Duc Minh, O.M.I.

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