Two sisters of the Daughters of Charity religious order, Teresa Tran (right) and Lucia Nguyen (left) - shown with Sister Justina Tuoi, Mother Superior of Daughters of Charity in Vietnam - will enroll in the Connell Graduate School of Nursing later this year.
From Vietnam to Chestnut Hill
Four from Ho Chi Minh City archdiocese prepare to study at BC
By Reid Oslin
Four religious leaders from the Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam will begin graduate studies at Boston College during the next several months as the initial step of an educational partnership launched by the campus visit last fall of that nation's recently elevated Catholic cardinal.
The four - two diocesan priests and two sisters of the Daughters of Charity - will enroll in graduate programs in pastoral ministry and nursing, respectively, arranged jointly by Cardinal Pham Minh Man, the archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City, and Rev. Julio Giulietti, SJ, director of Boston College's Center for Ignatian Studies.
Fr. Giulietti hosted Cardinal Man in a four-day campus visit last November, and the Vietnamese prelate sought Boston College's assistance in training his religious orders in the areas of pastoral ministry, nursing, library science and liturgical music.
"We have moved forward nicely in our partnership," said Fr. Giulietti. "CIS is taking a lead in the partnership by opening the doors between a vibrant Church in Vietnam and the great resources that are available at Boston College."
Fr. Giulietti says the Catholic Church in Vietnam was forced underground by the nation's Communist government after war in that nation ended in 1975. "Catholic schools and hospitals were confiscated," he said. "The church's education and medical services were put into the hands of people who were not capable of maintaining quality care. Similarly, there was no way for the Vietnamese church to stay current in theology, pastoral care and youth ministry."
Cardinal Man became archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City in 1997 and was elevated to cardinal on October 23, 2003. "His relationship with the national government has been very positive. Old encounters are passing with time and real dialogue," said Fr. Giulietti. "When he approached BC for our help, he was thinking not only about his own archdiocese, but for the entire Catholic Church in Vietnam and the Vietnamese people."
The two visiting priests, Rev. Nguyen Thuan and Rev. Kieu Tung, will arrive this summer and take masters' degrees courses in pastoral care and counseling in BC's Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry in their first year. Fr. Tung will specialize in liturgical music while Fr. Thuan will concentrate on parish administration.
Two sisters of the Daughters of Charity, a worldwide religious order that emphasizes the needs of those who have no one to care for them, will enroll in a graduate program in the Connell School of Nursing this fall, Fr. Giulietti said.
"We will have Sister Teresa Tran, who has been working with HIV/AIDS patients in Ho Chi Minh City and Sister Lucia Nguyen, who has been in the field of community health, with us at Boston College. Both women are qualified nurses," Fr. Giulietti said. "There are over 400 Daughters of Charity in Vietnam, and they do extraordinary service with people who are marginalized and abandoned, ill or dying."
Fr. Giulietti said he expects at least two Vietnamese priests, sisters or laity to come to Boston College each year to begin advanced studies.
Associate University Librarian Monique Lowd will join Fr. Giulietti on a visit to Ho Chi Minh City this summer to evaluate the needs of church-related libraries in the region. He hopes to have two Vietnamese graduate students enrolled in a library science program in the Boston area in the near future.
"Among Asian peoples any new endeavor, whether in business, educational, or friendship is primarily based on a relationship of trust," Fr. Giulietti said. "Maintaining the trust and meeting the legitimate expectations of all is critical to success. A relationship built on trust needs to permeate the partnership between BC and the Church in Vietnam."
Fr. Giulietti is spearheading fundraising efforts to support the partnership between Boston College and the Vietnamese church. Among others, Fr. Giulietti has received a gift from Thomas White, president emeritus of Boston's J.F. White Construction Co. to underwrite the initial exchange. •