MANILA, April 21, 2015— Long-time program director of Radio Veritas Asia (RVA) Monsignor Pietro Nguyen Van Tai, a Vietnamese priest, has died at the age of 66.
Tai passed away at a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on April 21, the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences—Office of Social Communication of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC-OSC) said.
For more than 30 years, the priest had worked with RVA in Manila, which since its inauguration in 1961, has served up to 17 language services for target areas across Asia and parts of Europe.
RVA’s Vietnamese language service was among the pioneer language broadcasts of the station, which actually started reaching overseas listeners in February 1967.
Upon arriving in the Philippines in November 1978, Msgr. Tai also started leading the association of Vietnamese religious studying in the country.
“He held this ministry for most of his life until recently, despite being critically ill,” the FABC-OSC said in a statement.
At the height of the Vietnamese civil war in the 1970s, he was designated chaplain and coordinator of refugees flocking to Philippines under the refugee program initiated by the then Marcos government and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
A native of Vin Nong diocese in Vietnam, Tai took his priestly formation at Pius X Pontifical College in Da Lat, Vietnam and just celebrated his 41 years in priesthood last March 4.
Social communications mission
After post-graduate studies at Urbaniana University and during practicum courses at Radio Vaticana in Rome, he was asked by Propaganda Fide and the then Pontifical Commission for Social Communication to work for the Vietnamese section of the FABC-owned continental short-wave RVA in Manila.
In 2009, Tai and eight other communication stalwarts pioneered the St. Joseph Freinademetz Communication Center. His other initiatives included radio broadcasts of Bible study and liturgies to Communist-ruled Vietnam.
In the age of Internet and digital convergence, he pioneered audio- and video-streaming through RVA facilities for Vietnamese in the diaspora. Tai dreamt that through the means of social communication, people will be “able to follow the Sunday Mass, to hear Bible teachings and to be informed about the life of the Church.”
In an interview with AsiaNews, he said: “Pastoral communication helps the Church in Vietnam and other Asian countries. With the transmission of Sunday Mass, believers may participate in the rite.”
In 2012, Tai served as assistant to the Papal Legate of the 10th Plenary Assembly of FABC (Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences) from Dec. 10 to 16 in Xuan Loc diocese east of Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam. (CBCPNews)