It was in 2003 that surveys and consultations began to be made about a possible Scalabrinian presence in Vietnam. People in Vietnam and people in Australia and Philippines who knew about the situation in Vietnam, all encouraged our Province to begin vocation promotion in Vietnam.
In “The Missionary Project of the St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Province, Australia & Asia”, discussed and approved during the Provincial Assembly September 1-4, 2003, under n. 1 said: revised and approved by the Provincial Administration and the Assembly of Local Superiors, was “It is a source of joy for the Province to witness that their Scalabrinian charism is drawing disciples in many nations, and that the institutions established for formation have prepared missionaries from the Philippines and from other countries… At the same time, the Province intends to renew its efforts to see a greater number of young persons attracted by the inspiration of Blessed Scalabrini and willing to accompany migrants as “the harvest is plentiful but laborers are few.”
During the Provincial Assembly (19-22 April 2004), a project to open vocation promotion and formation in Vietnam was presented. The rather long debate on this issue concluded with a motion, approved by the majority, said: “In the spirit of Vocation promotion, the Provincial Assembly looks favorably to the opportunity of receiving into the Scalabrinian formation process applicants even from other Asian countries other than the Philippines and Indonesia, utilising the available premises and personnel in Manila.”
Fr. Carmelo Hernandez, Rector of our Theology in Manila, and Fr. Edward Pacquing, our Vocational Promoter in the Philippines, on a visit to Vietnam on July 6-10, 2004, contacted the Cardinal of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and several people and also a possible school of Philosophy our candidates could attend. Thus they summarised their report: “We found the terrain of Vietnam a fertile soil for Scalabrinian vocations. The Cardinal, priests and sister we talked to welcome our charism. All of them said that there are plenty of vocations in that country. The Cardinal is concerned with the Vietnamese migrants, internal and international.”
More visits were made to Vietnam, more reports and discussions were held. Thus we arrived at the Provincial Assembly of April 4-7, 2005. The Provincial Administration, in its annual report for this Assembly, included the following proposal n. 5 about Vietnam. "We plan to begin accepting candidates for the 2005 school year, e. i. August-September. Responsible: Provincial Administration and Formators in the Philippines”. According to the minutes of this 2005 Provincial Assembly, the proposal n. 5, put a vote, was approved “by a vast majority”.
On September 5, 2005, Fr. John Mello, as Vicar Provincial, on behalf of the Provincial, emailed all the Confreres of the Province: “Good news from Vietnam: on September 5, 2005, 10 young Vietnamese became the first candidates to enter and begin the school year as “Scalabrinian seminarians. Let us rejoice and pray for them.”
On September 10, 2005, our Father General sent our Provincial the official decree dated the 8th of September 2005 , formally authorising the beginning of the program of Scalabrinian formation in Vietnam and precisely in Ho Chi Minh City for the Propaedeutic year and for Philosophy.
For more information on the history and presence of the Scalabrinians in Vietnam see our pages on Migration Services in the 'What We Do' section.