The Christendom Graduate School excels in the training of catechists and directors of religious education. Its affordable, flexible, and faithful program has attracted students from across the U.S. and beyond. Recently the graduate school has seen a rise in Vietnamese and Vietnamese-American students, both online and on-campus.
Since 2006, many Vietnamese-American sisters have attended the summer program at the Front Royal campus, both in the M.A. program and as part of the Vita Consecrata Institute. Many of these are Dominican sisters from Houston, a group that started with ten sisters who had escaped Vietnam after the fall of Saigon and now has over one hundred sisters in the province. Several others are members of the Lovers of the Holy Cross, an order in California that also has origins in Vietnam.
But more recently, in addition to these summer students, Christendom is pleased to have priests from Vietnam studying year-round at the Alexandria campus.
Fr. Andrew Phu Vinh Luong, a priest from the Phan Thiet Diocese, started at the graduate school in 2011. He will serve his diocese as director of catechesis upon his return home at the end of the year. Fr. Paul Quang Van Nguyen comes from the Diocese of Vinh, the largest diocese in the North of Vietnam with over 200 parishes and half a million Catholics—most of them young people. Both Fr. Andrew and Fr. Paul are studying the Evangelization and Catechesis Concentration of the M.A. program in order to prepare themselves to develop comprehensive catechetical programs for their home dioceses and to educate catechists. Both will likely be teaching in their diocesan seminaries as part of their catechetical efforts.
“I wanted to study in a truly Catholic environment, and I found that at Christendom,” said Fr. Andrew. “The knowledge I have received, and especially the example of the professors, has brought me closer to Christ and His Church. I wish that many people, especially the young, shall come to Christendom College to study and live the authentic Catholic faith.”
While studying at Christendom, Fr. Andrew and Fr. Paul are living and serving at local parishes, and in addition, they celebrate Mass at the graduate school on a regular basis. Their studies are sponsored by a group of generous Vietnamese-American Catholics, including laymen, clergy, and religious, who not only help them find places to study and live, but also pay for their studies and living expenses and welcome them into their homes.
“I am really impressed by the generosity of this Vietnamese-American community,” said Dr. Kristin Burns, Dean of the graduate school. “Even though they have made their homes in the U.S., they are willing to work and give in order to help spread the faith in their homeland.”
Thanks to these priests, the knowledge of the graduate school is spreading among the Vietnamese-Americans living in Northern Virginia, resulting in some of them attending the school.
Fr. Tuan Nguyen, O.P., a Dominican priest who is the associate pastor at Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Catholic Church in Arlington, Va., is working toward a Master’s degree taking courses at the Alexandria campus. Mr. Trieu Tho Mai, a software engineer who serves as youth minister, catechist, and Eucharistic minister at the same parish, is earning his M.A. degree by taking courses online.
“Christendom College is keeping Catholic tradition alive in our secular culture and passing on the Church’s authentic teaching,” Fr. Paul says. “I have learned much from the school’s love for the Church, and I will continue to tell Catholics in Vietnam about Christendom College.”
For more information visit christendom.edu/graduate.