An eight-year-old partnership between the Archdiocese of Louisville and the church in Vietnam has blossomed into a fruitful partnership, according to archdiocesan leaders.
The partnership — described as a covenant by the Archbishop of Louisville — has paved the way for Vietnamese seminarians to come to the United States for seminary studies. After ordination, the new priests serve as priests of the Archdiocese of Louisville for at least five years, gaining experience and ministering to the people here. At the end of that time, the priests and their bishops discern who will remain in pastoral care here and who will return to Vietnam.
At the heart of the covenant, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz said, is the realization that “we are one church in Christ.”
“We are participating in the universal mission of the church,” he said. “Just as for many years, missionary priests were sent to other countries, so now the local church in Vietnam is sharing with us their bounty of vocations.
“Not only are we getting fine priests, I think the priests bring an international flavor. In a sense our archdiocese is broadening ourselves by benefiting from the richness of these priests,” he said.
Since the beginning of the covenant, two men from Vietnam have been ordained priests. Fathers Kien Nguyen and Mihn Vu serve as pastors of St. Gregory Church in Samuels, Ky., and St. Bartholomew Church, respectively.
Last month two seminarians — Deacons Loi Pham and Quan Nguyen — were ordained to the transitional diaconate. They are expected to be ordained priests in the spring.
Archbishop Kurtz noted that the archdiocese continues to pursue ways to be of assistance to the church of Vietnam by sharing best practices and training resources.
The partnership was originally formed with the Diocese of Vinh, Vietnam, which was split into two dioceses — the Diocese of Vinh and the Diocese of Ha Tinh — in 2018.
In a virtual meeting last month, Archbishop Kurtz met with the two partner bishops from Vietnam — Bishop Alphonse Nguyên Huu Long of the Diocese of Vinh and Bishop Paul Nguyễn Thái Hợp of the Diocese of Ha Tinh. They formally renewed their covenant and discussed ways to strengthen the relationship they share.
“Perhaps the most valuable gift, more than the actual actions being done, is the deep friendship in Christ being formed and enhanced,” between the dioceses, Archbishop Kurtz said.