Since the establishment of the Congregation’s Vietnam District, Dehonian priests and brothers have been involved in the apostolate of Huong Tam School, a Catholic affiliated elementary school located just outside of Saigon. Members of the Priests of the Sacred Heart have been an integral part of this school, assisting in the education of its students as close collaborators to its sole proprietor, Father Paul Dong Pham, the pastor of St. Paul’s Parish in the Archdiocese of Saigon.
July 18, 2020 marks a historic milestone in the close relationship between the Congregation and the school. Fr. Francis Vu Tran, SCJ, District Superior of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart and Fr. Paul Dong Pham have officially teamed up to form a new partnership to further the mission of Huong Tam School. The two priests jointly signed an Agreement recognizing the Dehonians’ Vietnam District as co-partner in the management of the school. In this newly formed partnership, the Priests of the Sacred Heart are entrusted with the task of planning for the future of the school, while Father Paul Dong Pham will continue to be its sole proprietor and Administrative Principal. This joint effort is the fruit of many years of close collaboration driven by the desire to infuse Catholic teachings and Gospel values into the programs offered at this private school, one of the first of its kind in Vietnam.
The recognition of the new relationship between the Priests of the Sacred Heart in Vietnam and the Administration of Huong Tam School took place at the Dehon House I in Thu Duc District, Saigon. Following the historic signing ceremony, a Eucharistic celebration and in-house festivities were held to mark the new beginning for Huong Tam School and its associated apostolates.
Huong Tam School serves children of migrants and local factory workers who are often economically challenged. Every year, the school welcomes approximately 300 students, whose particular needs would not be met otherwise in public schools. Fr. Wilmer, the former Superior General, highlighted what has become the inspiration for this new partnership: “Education is key, crucial and important in the life of the Congregation. Fr. Yves Ledure always reminded us that the Congregation was founded beneath the roof of a school”.
From now on, as co-partners in the mission of Huong Tam School, the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Vietnam District will actively assist in bringing this school into the new era. This event has generated much hope and joy in the local community who see it as a welcomed development that will further benefit disadvantaged children and youth, regardless of religious affiliation. For the Dehonian members, this day certainly marks a new phase in the history of their presence and growth in Vietnam, as they seek to build up through education and social work apostolates “The Reign of the Sacred Heart in souls and society”, the hallmark vision of their Founder-Father Leo John Dehon.