Changing face of Catholic Church -
Vietnamese and Filipinos now make up the largest segment of the Asian seminarian population
BY TRUONG PHUOC KHANH (San Jose Mercury News)
WICHITA,Apr. 29, 2006 (www.kansas.com) - Growing up in Vietnam, Hung Pham went to church every morning with his parents, three siblings and extended family members.
And every night, the family gathered at home for prayer.
"Everything is about the family in the Vietnamese culture," Pham said. "Praying together, going to church together."
Pham said family unity was a factor that helped guide him to the priesthood. In 1989, he became the first Vietnamese-American to be ordained a priest in the Catholic Diocese of Wichita.
He is now pastor at St. Anthony Catholic Church and is one of three Vietnamese-American pastors in the diocese.
At a time when priesthood ranks in the United States have been shrinking -- down 26 percent from 57,317 in 1985 to 42,528 in 2005 -- the number of Asian-Americans in seminary schools is growing, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.
From 2000-2005, the number of seminarians in the U.S. dropped 5 percent, with whites falling from 69 percent to 65 percent. Black seminarians increased from 4 percent to 5 percent; Hispanics held steady at 15 percent.
And while exact numbers by ethnicity are not available, church officials say Vietnamese and Filipinos make up the largest segment of the Asian seminarian population.
Indeed, from Australia to Canada, where their numbers are in abundance, Vietnamese priests have been dubbed "the new Irish."