In October 2020, the Carmelites are celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of their installation in the diocese of Nha Trang, on the south coast of Vietnam. Despite the persecutions suffered during the dark years of the communist era, the Carmelite nuns now have 260 nuns in the land of the Dragon.
On October 1, 2020, Bishop Joseph Vo Duc Minh of Nha Trang celebrated a Mass in honor of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus, closing the jubilee year of the sixtieth anniversary of the establishment of the Order of Carmel in the coastal town of Nha Trang.
Four hundred faithful, and more than 35 priests were participated in the event. During his homily, Bishop Minh congratulated the nuns who serve the Church as “lightning rods, receiving confidences and distresses from all kinds of people, praying to God relentlessly.”
The 76-year-old prelate recalled that the Carmelites, on entering the monastery, “renounce everything: family, social position, material goods, ambitions, to spend their lives in the monastery praying, fasting, and doing penance.”
The prioress of the Carmel, Reverend Mother Marie Rose of the Eucharist Nguyen Thi Thu Hien, spoke after the ceremony, to underscore how the monastery plays a crucial role in the life of the local Church: indeed, many people from all walks of life come to visit the nuns, to ask them to pray for their intentions.
Further, young vocations are still knocking on the door of the monastery: we are far from the vocations crisis which is hitting a secularized West head-on.
The Carmelite odyssey on Vietnamese soil began in 1861, with the arrival in Saigon - in Cochinchina at the time - of the first four Carmelites from the Carmel of Lisieux, at the initiative of Archbishop Dominique Lefebvre, member of the Foreign Missions of Paris (MEP).
In a few decades, several dozen houses, faithful to the rule of St. Teresa of Avila, sprung up in this part of the Far East.
For Nha Trang, the story begins in 1960, when a group of French and Vietnamese Carmelites settled there, at the invitation of Bishop Marcel Piquet. These nuns left their Thanh Hoa monastery in northern Vietnam in 1955 to flee the war.
After the unification of the country under communist rule in 1975, all French nuns except the Reverend Mother Marguerite-Marie du Sacré-Coeur, were forced to leave the monastery.
As of 2020, Vietnam has eight monasteries and 260 Carmelites. And the monastery of Nha Trang brings together thirty-seven nuns within it. “The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christianity.”