Sixteen from Vietnam hope to be priests in NZ

Plans have been made for 16 men from Vietnam to come to this country to study and prepare to be diocesan priests in New Zealand dioceses.

When they arrive in New Zealand, it is planned that they will work to complete level 6.5 IELTS academic (English language), while living in their “home” dioceses in this country, so they can begin studies at Te Kupenga – Catholic Theological College, and apply to become seminarians.

NZ Catholic understands that the timing of their eventual arrival in New Zealand will depend on the New Zealand Government allowing foreign students to once again enter the country for study.

The sixteen will have to go through whatever MIQ or isolation requirements are in place when that happens.

Former Holy Cross College rector Msgr Brendan Daly has played a key role in arranging for the Vietnamese men to come to New Zealand.

Msgr Daly, who lectures in canon law at Te Kupenga Catholic Theological College’s Auckland campus, has previously liaised with Church authorities in Vietnam to bring men to this country to study for the priesthood.

He told NZ Catholic that he was asked to get three seminarians for the Christchurch diocese a year ago.

“Then I was asked to get three for Wellington archdiocese.

“The requests just kept growing, so that there are one for Dunedin, four for Christchurch, three for Wellington, four for Palmerston North, two for Hamilton and three for Auckland diocese” he said.

Msgr Daly said that, in July last year, 200 young men sat the seminary entrance exam for Vinh-Thanh seminary in Vinh diocese in northern Vietnam, and 40 were accepted.

“I asked Bishop [Pierre Nguyen Van] Vien about the possibility of some of those who were not accepted for the seminary in Vietnam coming to New Zealand instead.

“Bishop Vien consulted with the Vinh seminary rector and the parish priests of prospective students, and during the next few months the students agreed to come.

“They were interviewed on zoom by Father Tien Cao, the vocation director in Christchurch, and myself.

“There was also a zoom call to each of their parents to obtain permission to bring their sons to New Zealand,” he said.

Msgr Daly added that, before the first Vietnamese students came to Christchurch several years ago, he met with their parents in Vietnam and received permission to bring them to New Zealand.

“It was a very formal occasion for the parents who were formally dressed for the occasion. Then there was a meal afterwards”.

The sixteen who have agreed to come to New Zealand have moved to Da Nang in Vietnam to study English.

“They are living in a three-storey house together, and their accommodation is being financed by the New Zealand dioceses on a pro-rata basis”, Msgr Daly said.

These students are all aged in their 20s, and 15 have university degrees, he added.

“The sixteenth has studied music for several years and is very intelligent.

“The most common degree is Information Technology – one had a degree in English and there are several engineers and some accountants” he said.

Msgr Daly said that the 16 men “are committed Catholics who want to be priests.  They have good human qualities, are intelligent, and the bishop, who studied in Australia, has judged that they will adjust well and adapt to a society like New Zealand’s”.

Parishioners in this country should “welcome them warmly, as they welcome so many immigrants who are so much a part of our parish communities now in New Zealand”, he added.

NZ Catholic asked Msgr Daly to comment on why he thinks the Church in Vietnam produces so many potential vocations to the priesthood and religious life. He said “The Church in Vietnam has experienced a great deal of persecution over the centuries. Possibly there have been hundreds of thousands of martyrs in Vietnam.

“The people are very conscious of the heroes in the faith who have preceded them. That helps inspire young people to accept vocations to priesthood and religious life”.

Msgr Daly also expressed the hope that the example of the men from Vietnam might encourage more vocations in New Zealand.



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