|Project||Ten years after the first missionaries were sent from Viet Nam|
The province's history – its missionary roots
Vietnam Province was given some 50 missionaries in its first 20 years from the time of foundation (1952-1975). After 1976 all missionaries had to leave the country. Once the difficult years had been overcome, beginning from the 90's initial formation stages were set up in the country. From 1999 a few confreres were sent out of the province for Practical Training or to study, while others went as missionaries ad gentes according to needs seen by the Rector Major.
10th anniversary of the first sending out of missionaries
In 2009 the Province celebrates this commissioning of missionaries ad gentes in a spirit of deep gratitude for this calling which is part of the Salesian vocation. In fact, gratitude for the gift of 50 missionaries received lies at the heart of the many missionary vocations. Amongst these 50 there were Fr. Mario Acquistapace and other confreres from the mother province (China), also including Servant of God, Fr. Andre Majcen (1905-1999) – a Slovenian missionary whose Cause for Beatification officially opened in December 2008.
The 'Valdocco dynamic'
The results of extraordinary missionary generosity can be seen in a growing number of young confreres. The province is in fact experiencing the 'Valdocco dynamic' of Don Bosco's own time. The more missionaries there were, sent out to Latin America, the more young people there were who asked Don Bosco if they could join him as Salesians. The whole initial formation setting offers an original model of missionary formation, setting the hearts of young confreres on fire for mission ad gentes. This year alone there are some 450 Aspirants at university level, all receiving formation in seven centres each week, around 40 prenovices, 36 novices and 56 postnovices.
This year too seven postnovices have generously offered themselves to the RM for mission ad gentes. These candidates to missionary life have had many assistants who are carrying out missionary work in Africa, Asia, Oceania or Europe. The Provincial Delegate for mission animation is the Rector of the postnovitiate, where a lot of mission information and formation is on offer. In the 3rd year of the postnovitiate there is a process of discernment offered with regard to the missionary vocation (which is now the core of a draft version of a discernment process circulating around the Congregation and which comes out of this experience).
The Provincial newsletter features on a bimonthly basis letters and news items from missionaries, coming in from 5 continents, and this is a form of literature at provincial level that enthuses and brings new missionary vocations, as was the case at the time of the magazine Gioventù missionaria, founded by Fr. Philip Rinaldi in 1923.
Salesian Family Mission Day
One of the key points is the SMD (Salesian Mission Day), an annual event which brings together around 500 members of the 6 SF Groups in the province, and which is animated by the SDBs in formation. As well as the formation part – conference, presentation of some missionary experiences through theatre, dance and singing – at the final Mass some of the confreres present their request to be a missionary ad gentes to the RM. The SDB example is closely followed by the FMA and the first lay missionaries.
Parents of missionaries are also part of this celebration, and they meet together to share the joys and sorrows of their children living in far off lands.
Mission within the Province – ethnic groups and in Mongolia
The Province has its own first evangelisation territory within its own borders (in the Centre and North of the country, amongst indigenous tribes). Each year some confreres are sent on mission to these ethnic groups in the centre of the country. These are picked after making a request to be missionaries to the Provincial. Since the Year 2000 the Province has been entrusted with Mongolia, which now has three international communities – a strategic choice made by the Province – to guarantee a more effective evangelisation.
Missionary confreres – ad gentes in five continents
After the first ten years two confreres, for health reasons, have returned. One can encounter confreres sent by the RM in the following mission locations:
Oceania - Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands
Tp. HO CHI MINH