The early years (1925-1964)
In response to the call of Bp. Henri Lecroart S.J., the Nuncio, Cardinal Van Rossum, C.Ss.R., the Holy See’s Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and Fr. Patrice Murray, the Superior General of the Redemptorists, three missionaries of the Province of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, Canada, left their homeland of Canada, and departed for Vietnam on Octorber 14, 1925. They were Father Hubert Cousineau, Father Eugène Larouche, and Brother Thomas St-Pierre. They arrived in Hue on November 30, 1925.
The first Redemptorist House in Hue was established in. In the same year, Hanoi community was established, the Aspirancy and the Novitiate were opened. The first Redemptorist House in Hue was established in 1929.
As soon as they arrived in Hue, together with learning Vietnamese, the missionaries went for popular mission and giving retreats first to the French then to the clergy. The Redemptorists had been known throughout the Indochinese peninsula, even in Singapore and Thailand.
In 1933, besides Saigon community, the Vice-Province also opened the Studendate in Hanoi. The Canadian students were sent from Canada to study philosophy and theology in Vietnam together with the Vietnamese students.
Fr Charles-Eugène Lavoie began to promote devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help on Saturdays. Fr Patrice Gagné together with other fathers conducted many programs and served the non-Christians. They organized religious talks and film screenings; setting up the Library and L’Acceuil Hall … Besides, they issued the first Journal of our Lady of Perpetual Help in June, 1935, which had 2000 copies with 24 pages thick.
FYAN plantation was opened in late 1955. Since 1956, Fyan had become a major missionary center for the ethnic minorities. Nha Trang community was established in 1959, where the Novitiate lasted fifteen years.
While in Da Lat, Fr Gérard Gagnon organized both retreats for many groups and training courses for the Catholic movements, in Saigon, Fr. Peter Hoang Yen established an ethical movement to combat social evils such as prostitution, drugs, gambling, violence … The movement quickly spreaded to provinces in the South. Also in Saigon, Fr Lucien Olivier founded the Pension de Notre Dame in 1959. This house aimed to help the abused and abandoned women and children. Chau O missionary center was opened in 1961.
Phase II (1964-1975)
On May 27, 1964, Fr. Superior General Guillaume Gaudreau signed a Decree on the inauguration of the Redemptorist Province of Vietnam with its first Provincial Superior, Fr Francis Xavier Tran Tu Nhan. The Province of Vietnam ranks 34th in the order of Provinces of the Congregation.
With the renewed wind of Vatican II, the new Province was inspired with its vital towards the future. The apostolic activities that existed before, were still continued with remarkable successes. The Province was active in preaching popular mission, evangelization, confession, retreats, catechesis, devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, chaplain, Catholic movements and in the fields of journalism, school, charity, etc…
A new missionary center was opened in the Central Highlands in 1969, amid war bombs, to proclaim the Good News to the J’rai ethnic minority. And another mission area was established in Can Gio in 1971.
Phase III (1975-1990)
Right after the communists took over the South in April 1975, the Canadian missionaries were expelled. Some local Redemptorists were imprisoned or “forced labor.” The Province also suffered losses in facilities and means for apostolic activities. All schools and apostolic work facilities were requisitioned. Economic resources such as plantations, factories, ranches and other facilities were confiscated. Most missionary centers were forced to cease operations. Some convents were disbanded and confiscated. All communication with the outside world including the Congregation in Rome, was terminated.
Apostolic-pastoral activity encountered many difficulties. The Catholic movements stopped. The apostolic activities through the pen nib gradually came to a halt. The chaplain’s activities are either completely ceased. The schools were nationalized. The apostolic activities by the mass media such as the press, radio and television gradually came to a complete abolition.
But in 1976, the Province published a full translation of the Bible by the late Fr Joseph Nguyen The Thuan. It must be said that this is a lasting value for the Vietnamese Church.
The Redemptorist parishes, especially Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Saigon, have become new “Saint-Bennons” to bring the Good News to the poor and the suffering.
Until late 1980s and early 1990s, things began to change. There were several major converts. Particularly in the Central Highlands, many tribal villages were baptized after nearly 20 years of secret witnessing in work, prayer, and sacrifice.
By this time, the Province was making its best efforts to explore and implement a formation program that is both flexible with the time and ensure compliance with the main requirements of the formation of the Redemptorists.
Phase IV (1990 to the present)
A rather bold but meaningful decision was reorganized a Studendate at the Saigon community on January 1, 1990. From now on, the formation in the Province began to have new developments.
Fr Joseph Cao Dinh Tri was elected as Provincial Superior in earrly 1993. He officially connected with the General Government and with other Units of the Congregation after more than 20 years disconnected.
A new life began to appear in the Province. The devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help continued. The mission fields were bloomed. Every year, there were about 3,000 newly baptized in all centers, especially in the Central Highlands.
In short, the Redemptorist Province of Vietnam has gradually recovered and developed in all of its aspects since 2000.
In 2020, Vietnam has 26 communities with 360 confreres, 239 priests, 7 transition deacons, 94 professed students, 20 brothers, 12 novices, 35 postulants, and 80 aspirants.