Cu Chi (Vietnam), December 2016
“Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.” It is a key sentence of Advent season, the period that precedes Christmas. Christian life implies a constant call for change, a call to not tolerate what is not right, not nice, not good in our lives. Five months ago, I left the city of Saigon and moved to the countryside. Thanks to the arrival of a new Vietnamese American confrere, I have been replaced as superior of the community of philosophy where I stayed for six years and I became responsible of the novitiate. The novitiate consists in one year of spiritual training. It ends with the first commitment of our brothers who have been discerning their vocations for five years. They then make temporary vows for three years minimum. During this year, we provide good conditions for them to listen to God, understand better the meaning of religious life, through times of prayer, sharing and courses. We are two formators (a Vietnamese American and myself) and this year, we are delighted that two confreres from India, one brother and one priest, came to participate to the novitiate.
Having started the novitiate in July, we are already half way through the year and I can see changes and also resistances to the work of God in the life of the novices. To become a fully mature person, it takes time ! However, the novices do their best to take benefit of this year that calls them to go deeper in their inner life, to be more open-minded people, to be patient with themselves and the others and to not take themselves too seriously. It is a great opportunity for them, they witness that God can give us hope ; it makes a difference to the frequent mood of society today.
Although we are in the novitiate house, we keep in touch with many people who come to visit us, some for a time of retreat or a meeting, others to share a meal with us. Every month, we also welcome the 23 brothers of the two Spiritan communities of formation of Saigon. We keep contact with the 12 brothers who did already their novitiate a few years ago and who are now spending two years of pastoral work abroad or who started to study theology in Manila (Philippines). In Manila our brand new house has capacity to host twenty seminarians and their formators. It was inaugurated on the 3d of December. It took us three years to collect the money thanks to the generosity of so many people. We move now to another similar project. We want to purchase a land and build a house for formation in Saigon. It is important for the future of the spiritan presence in Vietnam and we hope we will be able to rely once again on the generosity of our benefactors.
Through our prayer and our religious commitment, we keep you in our mind and our prayer and hope that Christmas will be for you a time of joy, generosity and unity in your families. Make room for God in your lives, you won’t be deceived ! United,
Father Fred or Cha Hoa (my vietnamese name).
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