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Lenten retreat hosts ‘fallen members’

Vietnamese who forsook Church for state welcomed back to fold

Lenten retreat hosts ‘fallen members’
People attending a Eucharist adoration at the church reporter, Dan Sa parish

March 22, 2011

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Redemptorists running a retreat in a northern parish have welcomed back former Catholics who turned their backs on Church teachings to serve the Communist Party. Eight Redemptorists from Ho Chi Minh City recently held preaching, teaching, counseling, liturgical and sacramental celebrations for 3,600 Catholics at Dan Sa Church in Quang Binh province. Agnes Dang Thi Xuan admitted she was a member of the Communist Party, had undergone an abortion and was using contraception. Between 1987 and 1997, as a village official she advised 500 local Catholics to have coils put in and handed out 1,000 condoms to local men, she added. “I felt guilty about what I did and I was banned from receiving Communion for years,” said Xuan, 55, who quit her job in 2007. “Now I am happy to be a real Catholic again after Redemptorists visited my home, listened to me and heard my confession,” the mother of two said. A local Catholic man, who abandoned the Church for the Communist Party in 1965, said a visit by Redemptorists last week inviting him to attend services at the local church has made him very happy too. The 70-year-old who didn’t want to be named said another 50 local people like him “go to confession and have returned to the Church.” The man, who worked for a village authority, admitted he had fined Catholics or confiscated farmland because they violated the government’s two-child policy. During the recent eight-day retreat, local Catholics carried statues of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and held processions around their villages, attended daily Masses and Eucharist adoration and went to confession. The Redemptorists visited, offered prayers and gave Marian pictures and books to 1,500 local households. They also blessed many people’s houses. Local people decorated their altars at home with flowers and treated visitors to cakes and tea. Father Anthony Dau Thanh Minh, who started serving the parish in 2008, said out of 700 Catholic women who were forced to wear coils, 100 were Communist Party members, who ceased to practice their faith. Father Minh said he once told the women they would not receive Communion unless they removed their coils, but around 400 of them refused out of fear the government would not grand them farmland. His predecessor had allowed them to receive Communion, he said. The priest said during the parish retreat, many of these women, including the Communist Party members, changed their minds after visits from the Redemptorists and decided to remove their coils and go to Confession. Related reports Bishops´ Lenten letters stress family values Forced abortions torment women VT13677.1645
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