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Poor Catholics struggle to build church

Ambitious 10-year plan is faltering under financial pressure

Poor Catholics struggle to build church
Kim Long subparish reporter, Vinh city

May 25, 2011

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Catholics looking to build a church in a northern sub-parish in 10 years using their own money are struggling to achieve their target because of cash flow problems. “During the past two years, local Catholic families have donated 500 million dong (US$24,330) to build the new church,” said John Baptist Tran Khac Trung, head of Kim Long sub-parish in Nghe An province. They started construction on the church, which was expected to cost 3 billion dong, last year. Trung, 58, said the plan was for the 100 families to donate 300,000 dong per month over the next 10 years to finance the project, even though the average person only earns 500,000 dong (US$24)  a month he said. However, according to Joseph Nguyen Van Dien, a lay leader, soon after they laid the church’s foundation last year they had stop construction because of lack of money. They started on the walls in March and will stop have to stop work again in June, he added. Dien, 35, said a dramatic rise in the price of basic commodities in recent months means people are struggling to support both their families and the building of the church. Despite this, Trung said they are absolutely determined to complete the construction of the church which they have wanted for many years. He said the construction of the church has given local people an added community spirit, self-belief and a desire to help others. In some cases, parents volunteer to work on the church’s construction, while their children catch shellfish to support their families, he added. Father Joseph Tran Van Phuc, who began pastoral duties in the sub-parish six months ago, said if people persevere with their efforts, God will not abandon them. He hopes generous benefactors will be able to help the sub-parish. Local Catholics moved to the area in 1967 to avoid fighting in the Vietnam War. Their sub-parish was established in 1996 and religious activities were initially held in a family home. Currently, they worship in a small chapel which can’t accommodate the sub-parish’s 1,000 people. Related reports Catholics urged to give to build Da Nang unveils church construction plans VT14307
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