The Spirit of Dialogue in Vietnam

The Province of Vietnam recently commemorated the eighth centenary of St. Francis’ encounter with Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil by organizing a two-day session of ongoing formation on the theme Interreligious Dialogue in the Present Situation.  Br. Russel Murray, President of the Order’s Commission for Dialogue and General Animator for Evangelization, was the guest speaker.

On the first day, the Province hosted more than 70 representatives from eleven congregations across the Franciscan Family at its Provincial House in Ho Chi Minh City for a presentation, a lively discussion and a festive lunch.  The second day brought together the Province’s 120 friars in Initial Formation at its Post-Novitiate Formation House. The day began the evening before with solemn Vespers and a lively fraternal evening of songs, skits, dancing, and continued into the next day with the presentation, plus discussions among friars.

The Province of Vietnam is engaged in a variety of creative forms of ministry including parishes, mission outreach to ethnic minorities and care for the mentally ill. Key to the effectiveness of their diversity of services is the brothers’ singular, heartfelt and lived closeness with the people to whom they are present as “one who serves.” (cf. Lk 22, 27) In their life and mission, the friars of Vietnam are an example to their brothers throughout the world of what it means to be sons of St. Francis who, as our General Constitutions put it, “strive to listen reverently to others with unfeigned charity, learn willingly from the people among whom they live, especially the poor, who are our teachers, and ready to enter into dialogue with everyone. (93, §1)”.