The Spiritan mission to Vietnam began in September 2007 with the arrival in Ho Chi Minh City of three Spiritan missionaries. They were sent by the General Council of the Congregation to carry out missionary work there but also to establish a foundation for growth for the Congregation.
The first three Spiritans to arrive in Vietnam came from very different backgrounds. Fr. Anthony Le Trinh Quang, C.S.Sp., was born and raised in Vietnam but moved to the United States in the 1980s. He joined the Spiritans of the U.S. Province in Houston, Texas, was ordained in 2007 and then returned to his homeland. Fr. Trinh is in charge of the aspirant program and also assists his local parish on an informal basis.
Fr. Frederic Rossignol, C.S.Sp., from Belgium, was ordained in 2005. He serves as director of the 1st Cycle program, assists in his local parish and also provides pastoral care to French-speaking Catholics in the city.
Fr. Pat Palmer, C.S.Sp., hails from Ireland and had previously worked in Sierra Leone, Ghana and Ireland. He is the provincial superior of the circumscription, teaches English and provides pastoral care to English-speaking Catholics in the city.
In 2010 the group was joined by Fr. Joseph Quoc Le, C.S.Sp. Fr Joseph was born and raised in Vietnam but left his native country as a young boy. He joined the Congregation in Houston and was ordained in 2010. He is the bursar of the group and helps out in the local parish.
Six years later Fr. Joseph Lam Nguyen, C.S.Sp., who serves as the formation director, arrived in Ho Chi Minh City from Houston where he was ordained in 2006. Like Fr. Trinh Le, Fr. Joseph was born in Vietnam, and came to Houston at a young age. After his ordination he served a parish in Conway, Arkansas, moved to San Diego to work with refugee services, then returned to Houston as chaplain for the University of Houston.
The Spiritan foundation in Vietnam has grown over the past eleven years as evidenced by the 42 men presently in formation. “Within two years the first confrere to be trained in Vietnam will be ordained,” according to Fr. Pat Palmer. “After that there will be a steady trickle of new Spiritan priests and Brothers, ready to continue the work of the Congregation and of the Church.”
Blessed with this abundance of vocations in Vietnam, the Spiritans are in need of a larger, centralized location for housing the men in formation in the Ho Chi Minh City area. Two events to support the construction of a Spiritan formation house in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam are planned.
For more information on how you can help this cause, please contact:
Fr. Joseph Lam Nguyen, C.S.Sp.
Fr. David Cottingham, C.S.Sp.
This article was originally published in the One Heart, One Spirit newsletter.