Formation Support for Vietnam (FSVN) is a non-profit organization incorporated in the State of Texas since 2010. We assist the Church in Vietnam in the formation and education of clergy, religious, and seminarians for ministry. We help these students with their academic and spiritual formation by seeking scholarships from U.S. colleges and universities, seeking arrangements of room and board, and providing them with academic, cross-cultural, spiritual, and legal support.
The need for formation and education of religious and priests in Vietnam arises from its social context. After the Vietnam War, all Catholic education have been suppressed and Catholic schools and seminaries were shut down. Religious and priests in Vietnam have not had access to professional training. The Vietnamese political situation has now eased up somewhat. The number of religious and clergy has been flourishing, with a significant number of new vocations among priests and religious. There are 181 men and women religious congregations in 26 dioceses. Each of them currently has on average about 100 postulants. Men and women of religious carry out different ministries, including educating young Christians and non-Christians, taking care of HIV infected individuals, lepers, and orphans, and advancing the flourishing of women.
Due to the lack of finance, men and women religious and clergy lack training and education in leadership and professional skills. Thus, we hope to provide support resources for religious and priests in the Catholic Church of Vietnam. Upon completion of their studies, these religious and priests will return to Vietnam and make contributions to the mission and ministry of the Catholic Church in Vietnam and the Vietnamese society.
Since 2006, with the generous support of Catholic colleges and universities, men and women religious orders as well as dioceses in the United States, we have been bringing nearly 200 Vietnamese religious, seminarians, and priests from all 26 archdioceses and dioceses of Vietnam studying in the United States. They are studying different levels from the English as Second Language program to Bachelors, Masters and doctoral degrees in various disciplines: education, theology, philosophy, psychology, and healthcare, just name a few. Some of them have returned to Vietnam and have been involved in teaching, formation, and social services in convents, clinics, social service centers, and seminaries.
“Formation Support for Vietnam” is an organization that seeks to provide resources and support for men and women religious, seminarians and priests from Vietnam to study in the U.S. in a broad range of academic disciplines and programs in order to contribute to the development of the Church and culture in Vietnam. Its goals include support for placement in academic programs, reflection on the students’ cross-cultural experiences of the churches and cultures of Vietnam and U.S., and the development of increased pastoral collaboration within the church in Vietnam. The goal would be to enable these men and women to be more aware of their global citizenship, and identity as ‘bridges’ between cultures, nations, ecclesial communities and the universal church.
In the summer of 2004, Mr. Bao Quoc Nguyen, a scholastic of The New Orleans Province of the Society of Jesus, visited Vietnam after twelve years leaving the country. What struck him most was that the Vietnamese young generation did not enjoy complete education. He also saw the increasing number of priests, religious, and seminarians with little advanced education due to the limited Catholic educational institutions in Vietnam. He pondered over how more and more Vietnamese priests, religious, and seminarians could receive an advanced education to benefit the Church in Vietnam.
This motivated Mr. Nguyen to seek ways to help the Vietnamese priests, religious, and seminarians receive education in the United States. He contacted presidents of several U.S. Catholic colleges and universities, sharing with them about the situation of the Catholic Church in Vietnam. He also requested scholarships for priests, religious, and seminarians to study in their institutions. Committed by their institutional mission and persuaded by Mr. Nguyen’s love and generosity for his homeland, the college presidents agreed to grant several scholarships for the Vietnamese priests and religious. In 2006, Mr. Nguyen assisted six priests and sisters from the Archdiocese of Ha Noi and the Diocese of Thanh Hoa, Vietnam in studying in the United States.
Through the generous support and assistance of college and seminary professors, major superiors of religious institutes, and people among the Vietnamese American community, he sought the advice of several of them who came to form first a board of advisors, and then the Board of Directors of what grew into a more established institution. This group formed a non-profit organization, namely Formation Support for Vietnam (FSVN) in 2010. By that year, Mr. Nguyen had been able to bring about one hundred religious, seminarians, and priests to study at seminaries and colleges/universities in the United States. Deacon Peter Bao Quoc Nguyen was ordained priest in the Society of Jesus on June 9th, 2012 in Mobile, Alabama.
Truly the founders’ dream still inspires many presidents of universities and seminaries in the United States to continue to offer their support in terms of scholarships. By 2018 with the guidance of its Board of Directors, Father Nguyen and the executive board have brought 291 religious sisters and brothers, seminarians, and priests from 25 dioceses and 50 religious institutes in Vietnam and some priests and sisters from China. These students study at about 60 colleges/universities and seminaries in 31 states and District of Columbia throughout the United States. After ten years of the foundation, 78 assisted students have completed their studies and returned to Vietnam, where they currently minister in their congregations and dioceses in various capacities.
In 2016 FSVN launched the Missionaries for the West to assist the U.S. archdioceses and dioceses in recruiting candidates to the priesthood from Vietnam for service in the United States. The U.S. arch/dioceses provide seminarians with priestly formation and ordain them to priesthood. These men will become members of and serve in your arch/diocese. After three years, FSVN has introduced about 41 seminarians for 11 arch/dioceses in the United States.
The work has expanded to include opportunities for spiritual growth as well in a growing program of retreats. Community is also fostered in regular meetings of the students to reflect on their experiences and to begin to know one another in order to further their future work in Vietnam. Besides its scholarship efforts for students, FSVN has also been working hard to help students to know and collaborate with one another while they live and study in the United States. In addition to inspiring keynote speakers, the annual five-day gathering includes games, sports, jeopardy, group sharing, and even a talent show. These activities enable participants to share with one another about their studies and life in the United States, helping them to develop a network to work together now and in their future ministries.
FSVN will continue to expand its mission through its existing programs and other initiatives to support the Universal Church. With its expansion last year to include priests and sisters from China, FSVN may further consider expanding the mission to assist other Asian developing countries.
What Formation Support for Vietnam has accomplished so far has relied on the generosity and hospitality of the religious institutes and dioceses in Vietnam, Catholic colleges and universities, institutes of women religious, Vietnamese and U.S. benefactors, and other organizations in the United States. It has become the mission of all those who love Vietnam and its Church, not simply Presidents, but bishops, priests, religious and a very supportive laity. To accomplish its purpose, FSVN really relies on its alumni, with the hope that the assisted students will accomplish education, skills and experiences while in the United States. Upon completing their studies and returning home, they could make great contribution to their ministry of service, enhancing the life of people in their home countries.
Board of Directors
Father Mark A. Lewis, SJ, Ph.D.
Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy
Co-chair, FSVN Board of Directors
Father Hung Viet Nguyen, ICM
Superior, Incarnatio-Consecratio-Missio Congregation
Baton Rouge, LA
Co-chair, FSVN Board of Directors
Bishop Michael Barber, SJ, S.T.L.
Bishop of Oakland Diocese
Quyen Di Chuc Bui, Ph.D.
California State University Long Beach
Long Beach, CA
Francesco Cesareo, Ph.D.
President, Assumption College
Sister Thien Nga Dinh, ICM
Superior, Incarnatio-Consecratio-Missio Congregation
Baton Rouge, LA
Father Douglas L. Mosey, CSB, Ph.D.
President-Rector, Holy Apostles College & Seminary
Father Bao Quoc Nguyen, SJ, Ph.D
Loyola University Maryland
FSVN Executive Director
Sister Thu T. Do, LHC, Ph.D.
Georgetown University Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate
- Totally 210 assisted students are currently in the United States, including 138 Sisters, 32 priests, 26 seminarians, and 14 Brothers.
- A third of students (78 students) are currently in the English as a Second Language program. More than a quarter (61 students) are in A.A./B.A. programs. Around a quarter (46 students) are in M.A. programs. 11 students are in doctoral programs. And 14 are doing ministry.
- Students currently study and minister in 31 states and District of Columbia in the United States. The most popular states are Connecticut, followed by Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Texas, Indiana, Missouri, and New York with at least more than 10 students studying and ministering in each state.
- There are 78 students who have returned to Vietnam upon their study completion: 40 Sisters, 19 priests, and 13 seminarians.