The Speech Of Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh On The Opening Day Of The Academic Year 2017-2018

Dear Honored Guests,

As the President of Catholic Bishops Conference of Viet Nam (CBCV), I am assigned to greet you all, the guests of the opening ceremony of the academic year 2017-2018 of the Catholic Institute of Viet Nam (CIV) .

I welcome Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-fai, Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples with the love of the Church in Viet Nam for the Holy See.

I welcome Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, with love and gratitude to the Papal Representative who accompanies the Church in Viet Nam.

I welcome Cardinal Peter, Archbishops, and Bishops who belong to the CBCV in the brotherhood of the Bishops’ collegiality.

Especially, I welcome Bishop Joseph Dinh Duc Dao of Xuan Loc Diocese, who has been assigned as the Rector of the CIV by the CBCV.

In the extended unity of the Church, I welcome all Rectors of Seminaries, as well as Superiors of Religious Orders and Institutes who contribute to the education of future priests and religious men and women for service to the Church.

Especially, I welcome and thank Mr. Peter Tran Dai Hai, vice president and the CEO of Education Corporation of Nguyen Hoang Group and Ms Teresa Hoang Nguyen Thu Thao, the General Manager of Hong Bang International University.

I would like to express my gratitude to the benefactors who in their own ways support the CBCV to make the Project of CIV come true.

I send my greetings to all who are present for the Opening Ceremony of the CIV: the CEOs and managers of companies, and leaders of communities. I hope that this event opens for us a future perspective as we all expect.

Dear members of the Hierarchy of the Catholic Church and Honored guests,

The CIV started a trial year on September 14, 2016. The Institute does not have its own campus, the Bishop Rector asked permission to use the office building of CBCV, 72/12 Tran Quoc Toan Street, Ward 8, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, for all teaching and studying activities.

Today, the opening day of the academic year 2017-2018 does not take place at the office building of the CBCV but in another borrowed place. It is questioned why the Institute does not wait until it has its own campus to start its operation. They may not know that there is no answer to the question of when the Institute will have its own campus. In the current situation of Viet Nam, especially in cities, it is not easy to find a convenient place for the needs of the Institute. Until now, the CIV might be called “invisible institute” because it does not have its own address nor a planned campus.

According to Vatican II, education is one of the highest priorities of the Church. Besides teaching the faith to the laity, the Church wants to contribute to enhancing the lives of people and contribute to the societies where it serves.

The Archbishop Paul Bui Van Doc, the Former President of CBCV, in his speech at the Announcement of the establishment CIV, August 6, 2015, said: “Education is the key for the Church and freedom in education is an important tool for missionaries to society.”

For this mission, the Catholic Church around the world eagerly participates in education. In the United States, the Catholic Church has up to 200 universities, colleges, and institutes of which the University of Notre Dame and Georgetown University are on the list of the top one hundred good schools all over the world.

In Viet Nam, for a long time, the Catholic Church has been concerned about the educational ministries. Before 1975, in Southern Viet Nam, the Catholic Church owned thousands of schools of different kinds. According to the Catholic statistics in 1974, the Catholic Church had 1,122 elementary schools, 93 high schools, and 3 universities (Da Lat, Minh Duc and La San); 48 hospitals, 58 orphanages, as well as many charitable organizations. There were even vocational-training schools, technological schools, schools for the deaf and blind, and schools for poor students regardless of religion or political affiliation.

Those institutions no longer exist. According to the government in Viet Nam, on August 6, 2015, the CIV is allowed to open, but it is limited to a Theological Institute for priests, seminarians and religious men and women. The desire of the CBCV in the Pastoral letter of 2010 is to contribute to the improvement of the country in all areas. CBCV officially asked the government “to open the door for members of religions and people of good will to participate in education and health care,” that means to allow the Catholic Church to be able to open schools in the spirit of the Church and as the developed countries around the world have done.

No one knows when this dream will come true. In positive way we are not stuck. In the CIV opening day in 2016, Archbishop Paul Bui Van Doc appreciated the public policy of openness of the government of Viet Nam in recent years. In this way, we hope that today is a historical point that closes a long period in which the Church in Viet Nam stopped providing general education.

The road has a lot of challenges ahead. The establishment and opening ceremony of the CIV today opens an opportunity for religions in general, especially for the Catholic Church in Viet Nam.

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross. The Cross is not a symbol of humiliation, suffering, and dead end but is an inevitable way to reach the glory of resurrection. All glory must go through the dialectical rule: “all beginnings are challenging.” It is also is a historical road. It’s the road of the Catholic Church through 20 centuries. It’s a mission road for each of us. It’s also the road of hope of the CIV.

Finally, I would like to send best wishes to each one of those who contribute to building the future of our nation, our people, the Catholic Church and the CIV. Wishing the Administrators, Faculty, and students a blessed opening day and a new academic year full of spiritual fruits.

Thank you!

Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh

Archbishop of Hue Archdiocese

President of CBCV

Chancelor of CIV