Fr. Joseph Nguyễn Văn Hội, the superior of the Redemptorist community in the Vietnamese capital, has launched an appeal regarding the fate of the congregation’s convent in the Dong Da district.
Local authorities, while the religious were on a retreat with the clergy of the archdiocese, have arbitrarily initiated renovation work in the hospital, which they have long established in the building.
The priest has sent a letter to brothers, sisters, and faithful worldwide, explaining the situation and seeking prayers for support in their efforts to restore the original function.
Renovations both inside and outside the building began on Nov. 6 without the fathers’ permission.
Consequently, he writes, Fr. Joseph Nguyễn Văn Hội, “I have sent a representative of the Thái Hà Parish Pastoral Council to urgently meet with the hospital administrators and ask them to stop the repairs and renovation works.”
Already on two other occasions – continues the letter dated 11 November – “the hospital director and the board of directors had visited our parish and discussed with us the necessary repairs to the neglected sections of the hospital.
We had implored them to ask the higher authorities to build a new hospital elsewhere, explaining that the building was originally built as our convent and is completely unfit to function as a hospital.
We said – explains Fr. Joseph Nguyễn Văn Hội – that for any urgent and immediate repairs (such as cracks in the ceiling or peeling paint that could harm patients), they must provide clear written requests specifying the precise nature and location of the repairs, and we will submit them to the ecclesiastical authorities superior.”
However, the renovation work continued, and the hospital director provided only a vague response to the complaints of the Redemptorist fathers.
“The convent seized for this hospital is the material and spiritual heart of our congregation in Vietnam, built and inhabited by generations of our Redemptorists in the last century,” underlines Fr. Joseph Nguyễn Văn Hội.
“As we approach the 100th anniversary of our ministry in Vietnam, we fervently hope that the congregation will join together” in calling for the return “of our sacred home.”
The Redemptorists, who landed in Vietnam in 1925 (the 100th anniversary of their arrival will be celebrated in 2025), began using the site for the novitiate and as a study center in 1928 after purchasing a 61,455 square meter plot of land and building several structures there.
“We never sold them,” said the priest, referring to the buildings there. Local Catholics have reported that they are deeply saddened that the renovation is going ahead without their permission because, at least in the past, management used to seek approval from the congregation before repair work was carried out.
Fr. Joseph Nguyễn Văn Hội finally underlined that these actions violate religious freedom and discourage the population from having trust in the communist-led government while the Vatican and Vietnam are trying to improve bilateral diplomatic ties.