HCM City, Vietnam, 16 May 2023 -- Since the end of the Vietnam War the Catholic community of this large South East Asian country is known all around the world for a large number of religious and priestly vocations. However after 30 years of growth in the novitiate (both men and women religious) in Vietnam, the number of young people attracted to consecrated life has dropped.
Recent news articles of UCAN (Catholic News of Asia) and La Croix (French daily Catholic news) report the following symptoms of this vocation decline:
# Novice-master comment: A fall of nearly 50% of our novices
# In religious congregations which once had 10 candidates, now we see only three!
# Since 1999 we have always had 40 novices, but this year they are only 12.
# Youth (10-18 years) vocation promotion group members dropping from 250 to 130 members in past few years
# Fewer women joining religious life, due to nuclear families, fewer girl students in colleges for financial reasons (fall from 25 girls to 3 in the 'come and see' programs)
Among the root causes of this vocation decline mostly mentioned are domestic (family) discord, distress caused by domestic migration from the rural areas to the cities, economic issues in the families and disregard for faith practices. Amidst this new scenario the vocation promoters in the dioceses and religious congregations face this situation offering scholarships, weekly vocation meetings, encouraging young people to take part in apostolic activities (charity, visit to social welfare institutions, reaching out to the HIV patients), offering accommodation to college students and encouraging families to continue their old traditions of family prayers and daily Mass attendance.
What is the feedback of our Salesian Family in Vietnam to these vocation challenges?
One SDB shares: 'Thanks a lot for these reflections, we take this trend seriously as we can see it happening under our eyes! We will have to invest more in vocation animation in spiritual, education and apostolic commitment!" We need to read this statement in the context of extensive vocation animation reaching weekly to some hundreds of potential vocation candidates in 5 vocation centers.
And one FMA sister shares similar views: "It's a reality! We perceive the decline of vocations, too. In our community there are 10 girls in the vocation orientation program for consecrated life - 9 out of 10 girls have graduated from University and one girl from Laos is now in her last University year. We see the vocation decline in all other female congregations, it's true! We just work and pray for new religious vocations for SDB and FMA, also taking better care of them!"
Within the Asian Church Vietnam is the fifth largest Catholic community after the Philippines, India, China and Indonesia with 7 million faithful (7% of the population), 27 dioceses, some 2228 parishes and 2668 priests. Also beyond Vietnam there are signbificant numbers of Vietnamese vocations, like in the USA, where there are some 500 Vietnamese priests and 12% of major seminarians are Vietnamese. In Vietnam itself there are 11 major seminaries with 2824 seminarians.
The Novena to Mary Help of Christians is a good time to pray and work for a fruitful vocation animation, following Mary's example at Cana: "They have no wine".
- UCAN - Vatican statistics show decline in clergy and women religious vocations
- UCAN - Religious vocations on the decline in Vietnam
- LA CROIX - Religious vocations are on the decline in Vietnam
- GLOBAL SISTERS - Vietnamese nuns celebrate Vocation Sunday 2023
Aspirants of Don Bosco Xuan Hiep Community 2023