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Interview of Fr. Joseph Luat
Nguyen Cao

Prior Provincial of Queen of Martyrs Province of Vietnam

Interviewed by Fr. Luis Ramos, O.P.

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Fr. Joseph Luat was born in Nam Dinh, North Vietnam, on August 25, 1951. Educated in grade school by Vietnamese Dominican sisters of the Congregation of Saint Catherine of Siena, he entered the apostolic school of the Order of Preachers in Saigon at the age of fifteen, in 1966. In 1978, his priory was confiscated. The community of friars was thereupon dispersed in small groups that carried on the common life in homes.

After finishing his theological studies, he could have been ordained priest in 1978. In fact, he would not advance to presbyteral ordination until thirteen years later, in 1991, after being ordained deacon in 1980.

Q. What is it that drew you to the Order of Saint Dominic?

My discovery of the Dominican charism was rather slow. My family attended a parish staffed by a Dominican friar. The Dominican sisters shaped my childhood. The fraternal life awoke in me the desire to become a Dominican.

Q. What are you apostolic activities?

I have been formator of Dominican sisters and professor of liturgy. I have taken a three-year program in sacramental theology at San Anselmo in Rome. I have also been Master of Students for two years.

Q. What is your greatest joy?

Life with the brethren.

Q. Do you have a dream that you would love to have fulfilled?

Yes-that the Dominicans might return to North Vietnam. The Christian faith of the south is the result of Spanish Dominican missionaries who evangelized the regions of the north such as Tonkin.

Q. Can you tell us something about your province?

We have one hundred sixty friars, two thirds of whom are young brothers in formation: twenty-two novices who will make profession on August 15, and eighty-seven student brothers. We have accepted ten novices for the coming year.

We need formators and professors. We are sometimes forced to become self-taught.

The province no longer enjoys the presence of nuns. In addition to the apostolic sisters, the Dominican Family in Vietnam is rich, with fifty thousand lay Dominicans.

Q. What are the province's projects for the future?

We would love to set up priories in the north, in the center, and in other regions of the south of the country.

Our concern is also to send the young friars to get their formation in foreign countries, such as the Philippines, the United States, Australia, France, Italy. . . . In this sense, the provinces of Holy Rosary, France, Toulouse and the Philippines help us with the offer of scholarships.

Q. What would you say to a young person seeking his vocation?

I would speak to him of the importance of the mission. In Vietnam, eight percent are Catholics. I would also emphasize the intellectual life. puce


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