Brother Valery Nguyen Van An, FSC has undertaken in this volume to recount some of the history of the Brothers of the Christian Schools in the former District of Saigon (now District of Vietnam) since the fall of the Republic of Vietnam in 1975. Brother Valery focuses in this volume on the Brothers who remained in the country after the fall especially those in the LaSan Mossard Community.
The challenge facing the Brothers in April, 1975 was an extraordinary one. Whether to stay in the country or to flee ahead of the armed forces from the North invading the South was an excruciating question facing most Brothers. Those who chose to remain opted for a future unknown at the time of choice—a future which proved to be one of unprecedented deprivation and suffering.
The District of Saigon before 1975 numbered 300 Brothers and about 15 novices. The Brothers operated 27 educational institutions including primary, secondary and technical schools, boarding schools, a center for blind children, and a teacher training college. All of these were lost at once when the government in Hanoi ordered them to be "offered" to it. The Brothers found themselves without an educational ministry and very quickly reduced to poverty.
The story does not end in misery, however. Through courageous and ingenious action, the Brothers gradually overcame some of the major obstacles confronting them, established new educational ministries, and managed to attract young men to join them so that today the District of Vietnam, while not flourishing as formerly, has made a remarkable comeback while still operating under severe governmental restrictions. This story will be told in detail in Journal 2: Threshold of New Hope, the LaSalle Vietnam Family Overseas.
Brother Valery, as an eyewitness to many of the events he describes here and with the assistance of other eyewitnesses, preserves for posterity an account of many of the events in the Brothers’ history that transpired leading up to and following upon the fall of Saigon.
Brother Stanislaus Campbell, FSC
Visitor, District of San Francisco
September 18, 2008