Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Ho Chi Minh portrait replaces cross
Church sources say authorities forced the removal of worship items from chapelBishop Michael Hoang Duc Oanh (right) and villagers pray at a lay leaderâ€™s house, where removed chapel items are now housed
- Asia desk, Bangkok
- August 16, 2012
â€śAfter local Catholics finished prayers in the chapel on Sunday morning, local government authorities came and asked them to remove a cross and a Marian picture from the chapel,â€ť a Church source said.
The source added that authorities from Kon Thuc hamlet, led by two security officials from Mang Yang district in Gia Lai province, threatened that if villagers did not remove the items from the chapel, their lay leader â€śwould be put in prison.â€ť
Villagers had to carry the cross, Marian picture, altar and tabernacle to the lay leaderâ€™s house, the source said.
Authorities then put two pictures of Ho Chi Minh in the places where the cross and Marian picture were.
On the following day, authorities dismantled the bell of the chapel after local Catholics refused to do it. The bell was also taken to the lay leaderâ€™s house.
A lay leader said authorities told parishioners that the building was to be used â€śfor village activities, not for worship.â€ť
Local Catholics said the building, sponsored by a France-based charity organization, was built in 1999 for villagers, most of them ethnic Bahnar Catholics, to worship and hold their common activities.
Since 2007, priests from other places started to pay weekly visits and provide pastoral services for villagers at the building that has been used only for worship.
The chapel is based in Dak Pnan village, whose members are lepers.
On August 13, Bishop Michael Hoang Duc Oanh of Kon Tum visited local villagers and encouraged them to live out their faith bravely and work for the common good.
The prelate has not yet made any response to recent events.