Saigon Pastoral Institute

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Official name Saigon Pastoral Institute.
Country / Continent Vietnam / Asia
Director of the institute Peter Nguyen Van Kham.
Legal holder of the institute Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City.
Sponsor of the institute Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City.
Year of foundation 2004
Number of staff (employees, freelancers, volunteers) 9



Staff members of your institute Nguyen Van Kham: Director

Nguyen Van Hien: Vice Director

Bao Loc: Dean of study

Nguyen Kim Duy: member

Nguyen Anh Tuan: member

Do Huu Chinh: member

Dang Chi Linh: member

Nguyen Thi Lanh: Administration

Tran Van Tra: Accounting and finances.

Contact 6 bis Ton Duc Thang Street

Ben Nghe Ward – District 1

HCM City – Vietnam

pherohien@yahoo.com


Contents

Particulars of your pastoral institute

Official name

Saigon Pastoral Institute.

Director of the institute

Peter Nguyen Van Kham.

Legal holder of the institute

Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City.

Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City.

Vision / mission statement

The Pastoral Institute is dedicated to foster and promote a profound realization of the vocation and mission of the adult lay faithful and to prepare them for full participation in the church’s live and mission (that of evangelization in a variety of settings) as ministers in their parishes and dioceses. In this perspective, the Institute provides lay faithful with the scriptural, theological, spiritual and pastoral training programs designed to enable them: to promote their spiritual live through union with Christ in the Church, to deepen their knowledge of faith by staying and working together and to develop their ministerial and missionary spirit as well as their pastoral skills through communal life and full participation in the pastoral activities.

Main areas of work

Providing lay people with the scriptural, theological, spiritual and pastoral training programs.

Addressees of your work (course participants[1])

Majority is lay people who are active at parish and diocesan level. Some of them are religious brothers and sisters.

Year of foundation

2004.

Organisational structure of the institute

Number of staff (employees, freelancers, volunteers)

9

Staff members of your institute[2]

Nguyen Van Kham: Director

Nguyen Van Hien: Vice Director

Bao Loc: Dean of study

Nguyen Kim Duy: member

Nguyen Anh Tuan: member

Do Huu Chinh: member

Dang Chi Linh: member

Nguyen Thi Lanh: Administration

Tran Van Tra: Accounting and finances.

Qualifications of staff members of your institute

Nguyen Van Kham Doctor in Pastoral Ministry

Nguyen Anh Tuan Doctor in Familial Ministry

Bao Loc: Master of theology in Religion

Questions relating to the work of your institute

What pastoral options do you feel obliged to?

Many lay faithful are enthusiastically involved in doing pastoral work in various areas at parish and diocesan level as volunteers. They want and need to be trained to do more effectively their pastoral works. Therefore, we are called to offer them opportunity to do it.

What are the pastoral focus areas of your institute?

To prepare lay faithful for full participation in the Church’s life and mission.

What pastoral aims does your institute pursue?

To promote their spiritual life, deepen their knowledge of faith and develop their ministerial and missionary spirit as well as their pastoral skills.

What pastoral services does your institute provide?

We seek to provide adult lay faithful with a solid intellectual and spiritual grounding for their faith, and to prepare them to serve in their parishes and dioceses as ministers in a variety of settings. We have two kinds of training programs: the first academic program for those who want to be compassionate professionals who are valued for their faith, services and integrity the other on going formation for those who want to promote their faith and spiritual life. We also collaborate with the diocesan ministries to provide lay faithful with training programs for catechists, animators, choristers …

What pastoral processes have you initiated or accompanied recently?

To foster their spirit of service by engaging them in ministerial activities, respond to their need to be trained by offering a basic training program, and inspire them to do mission.

What does this mean for the areas of catechesis, deaconry and liturgy?

Catechesis: Among lay faithful, catechists get the first place. We appreciate their contribution into catechetical activities in parishes. Many of them are participating in the basic training program which last out three years.

Deaconry: Here and now, it is not a real need for us – both clergy and laity. Maybe in the future, we will have it.

Liturgy: Although our Churches are crowded on Sunday Mass, we strive for promoting their faith and spiritual life by on going formation.

What notion of God inspires your work?

God as a father inspires us to live and work as his sons or daughters. This image is close to the Vietnamese culture which respects ancestors. This notion also inspires us to foster and promote the solid and profound tradition of family in the Vietnamese culture. The Church is considered as a family. It is the place where Christians live together in communion with God as the Father and others as siblings. The spirit of communion inspires us to build up the Institute as a family.

In how far does Christian spirituality shape your work?

It helps us focus on building up relationships instead of transmitting knowledge as well as on being/living instead of having/doing.

What processes do you use or develop to analyse reality? How are these elaborated and how are they linked to pastoral care? How do you pass these processes on?

We apply theological reflection to analyse reality. It is the way of seeing the reality, judging it under the light of reason and faith and acting in the new way.

What prophetic approaches does the institute put into practice with a view to shaping society?

We prefer transformational to informational or formational education. It requires that we begin with our living experience or with the issue come from our experienced life. Consequently we will move from the head to the hands, through the heart and for the coming of God’s Kingdom.

What does the work of the institute involve exactly? (Framework conditions? Publications? Courses? Lectures? Congress?...)

Statistics:

2005-2006: Courses 4/9, Classes: 4/9, Instructors: 3/7, Participants: 783/682

2008-2009: Courses: 44/43, Classes 53/57, Instructors 36/36,

Participants 1070/956

2011-2012: Courses: 57/66, Classes: 66/77, Instructors: 40/48, Participants: 1873/1629.

What magazines, periodicals, books, manuals, work aids, methodological instructions etc. does your institute publish?

We have some publications including a magazine for interreligious dialogue.

What do you consider to be the most important service of your institute?

Serve for the promotion of the role and competence of lay faithful.

How do you evaluate the work of your institute?

Statistics show us the growth of the institute in quantity. However, after the period of basic foundation, we have to lift up the quality of teaching and learning; for example, methodology, bibliography, national and international linkage in both academic and pastoral fields.

What are the most important developments that you are dealing with at present?

The most important one is the basic foundation.

What are the main difficulties your institute is confronted with in its work?

Lack of personnel and facilities, linkage and cooperation with others.

What challenges do you perceive for your institute at present?

What hopes, dreams and visions do you have for your institute?

To develop national and international pastoral networks.

To what extent does your institute support laypeople in the Church and in society?

As said above, they are main objects for us to serve.

How do you communicate your experiences and results to the respective local church, to neighbouring local churches and to other addressees (e.g. institutions affiliated to you)?

We shared our short experience to the new pastoral institutes.

To what extent does cooperation with the Bishops’ Conference of your country or with your diocese take place?

The Institute belongs to the archdiocese; therefore, it cooperates with other institutes or ministry commissions in the archdiocese, with other dioceses and with Bishop’s Conference. Here, many congresses at diocesan or supra-diocesan, national or international have been occurring.

What linkages/networks are in existence at national level?

Some dioceses and congregations begin to establish Pastoral Centre. The few dioceses and congregations are able to set up a pastoral institute.

What linkages/networks are in existence at international level?

Not yet.

What kind of interreligious cooperation does take place with non-Christian religions?

The Institute enhances mutual understanding and cooperates with the main local religions: Baha’i, Buddhism, Islam and the indigenous faith of Cao Dai and Hoa Hao. It provides the students with courses on interfaith ministry, gives them opportunity to exchange with Buddhist monks and nuns and cooperates with them in social works. We publish “Bridge of the Heart-Magazine” every three month. The magazine includes articles written by followers of Cao Dai and Buddhism and provides an interfaith-dialogue forum for Catholics and followers of other faiths.

What kind of ecumenical cooperation does take place with non-Catholic churches?

We build up friendship and have exchanges with Presbyterian and Evangelical Churches. Some Pastors were also invited to give talks in a variety of topics.

Which theological mergers/associations are you affiliated with (personally or as an institute)?

The institute looks like “baby” in comparison with its “elder brothers and sisters”. So, we hope we would do affiliate with another one.

How can we assist you with your intercontinental exchanges and with exchanges between the continents?

We need your assistance to make exchanges with others but we do not know how and to begin with. We hope that our Institute, through your support, will be friend with many well-organized and developed institutes and through our exchanges, we will have much more of chance to learn from their experiences in order to renew and refresh our institute.


  1. It would be interesting to know among other things whether course participants are active at parish, diocesan or supra-diocesan level and whether courses are attended by priests, religious or laypeople.
  2. It would be interesting to know among other things whether the staff members of the institute are priests, religious or laypeople.