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Catechists in Vietnam told to dialogue, listen to people

They should be able to communicate their faith and live out positive traditional values

Catechists in Vietnam told to dialogue, listen to people

Religious and catechists across Vietnam attended the national catechism congress Aug. 28 - Sept. 1 at Xuan Loc Bishop's House. (Photo courtesy of Xuan Loc Diocese) reporter, Ho Chi Minh City

September 6, 2017

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Catechists in Vietnam should be trained as disciples of Jesus capable of assisting people to respect traditional values, was one takeaway message from a national catechism congress held in Dong Nai Province.

Some 240 priests, religious and catechists from across the country attended the congress held by the Episcopal Commission on Doctrine of the Faith Aug. 28-Sept. 1 at Xuan Loc Bishop's House.

Father Peter Nguyen Van Hien, an organizer for the congress, said the event aimed to plan a general program to train catechists to "be in communion with God, the church and people."

Father Hien, head of Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocesan Committee on Catechism, said catechists need to have a strong motivation to proclaim God's love and salvation to people.

"What should we do to restore national traditions and moral values that are declining, preserve and activate family values and affection for neighbors?" he asked.

Communicating faith to people means trying to bring Good News values into society, live out positive traditional values that highlight respect for parents and teachers, family affection and uprightness, said Father Hien.

When catechists are educated to live the mystery of communion, "their hearts are filled with joy and they are urged to reach out to people, especially the poor and marginalized, and bring God's salvation to them," he said. 

During the congress, Bishop Joseph Nguyen Nang, vice president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Vietnam, said for catechists to have the spirit of communion with other people, they need to have a positive view of people.

"They must learn how to dialogue with people by getting out of their selves, listen to people and work with people for the common good," said Bishop Nang.

The bishop said catechists need to be in communion with other Christian churches, have dialogue with other faiths and all people in society.

To teach catechism effectively, he said, catechists need not only be loyal to their work but journey with learners in their faith life outside classes.

In his talk on training catechists as witnesses of the Good News, Archbishop Paul Bui Van Doc, head of the Episcopal Commission on Doctrine of the Faith, said "catechists can only bear witness to the joy of Good News when they passionately look for and meet God." Thanks to meeting God, they are inspired to share their joy with others, he said.

Bishop Peter Nguyen Van Kham of My Tho said being a catechist is a vocation because they are given a mission to serve God's people. "They have to share in the responsibility for the church's mission and have the sense of belonging to the church," he said.

During the congress, participants in groups discussed challenges facing them. They suggested a catechist training program for all of the country's 26 dioceses. Church leaders should care and support catechists, and conduct retreats, training courses for catechists to help them deepen their faith, they said.

Last April, Vietnamese bishops allowed the testing of the General Guidelines on Teaching Catechism in Vietnam within three years. The guidelines composed by priests, Religious and catechists for 10 years, are seen to be a new milestone for teaching catechism in the country.

As of Dec. 31, 2015, the Catholic Church in Vietnam had 6,756,303 Catholics served by 66,624 catechists. Most of them work without salaries.

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