Updated: May 01, 2021 06:12 AM GMT
Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop (left) greets Bishop Louis Nguyen Anh Tuan at Ha Tinh Bishop’s House on April 27. (Photo courtesy of giaophanhatinh.org)
The new apostolic administrator of Vietnam’s youngest diocese plans to focus on family ministry to develop the local Church.
Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh of Hue, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Vietnam, presided at the special ceremony concelebrated by 15 archbishops and bishops and joined by 300 priests. Some 8,000 people attended the Mass, with many watching the ceremony from outside the cathedral.
The event also marked the retirement of Emeritus Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop, who reached the age of 76 in February.
His father left home in 1943 to study and got married to his mother in 1949 in Da Nang. His mother, who married when she was 16, is 93 years old and attended his installation. She has nine children including him.
I plan to connect family ministry to other pastoral activities to unite local people
Bishop Tuan said strengthening family ties and developing basic ecclesial communities will be his priority as families are the foundation and future of humankind and the Christian church. The solid foundations of family life are undermined by divorce, separation and family members living far away due to financial problems.
"I plan to connect family ministry to other pastoral activities to unite local people, develop the local Church and foster evangelization work," the 58-year-old bishop said.
The prelate said he will continue the pastoral services his predecessor provided and “is ready to listen to sound advice from him, local priests and other people to build the diocese and promote evangelization.”
Bishop Hop built firm foundations for the diocese, which was established separately from Vinh Diocese in 2019.
Bishop Hop said during the past two years, despite the Covid-19 pandemic and severe floods, the local Church had repaired a building as the temporary bishop’s house, built the St. Pope John Paul seminary and two centers to hold religious and cultural activities and to provide safe places for local people in annual floods. Other such facilities and three new resettlement areas for flood victims in Quang Binh province will be built soon.
The Dominican prelate, who also led the neighboring diocese of Vinh, said many churches and church facilities in Ha Tinh and Quang Binh provinces had also been erected in the past decade. Local people had suffered war damages, poverty, natural disasters and religious persecution from the government. A lot of churches, parish houses and schools were ruined and devastated.
The diocese’s first bishop said the local Church’s development marks the restoration of local Catholics’ faith life.
He will be committed to cultural, educational, health care and charitable activities
Bishop Hop, who dedicates himself to religious freedom, human rights, victims of natural disasters and human activities, and environmental protection, said the diocese should focus on bringing Good News to other people, offering faith education to the faithful, cementing family relationships and giving opportunities to youths to study further, work for the common good and crave for prosperity and human dignity.
The former head of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of the Vietnamese bishops said it is painful seeing many youths who have not yet finished high school seek jobs abroad. “What will such people do for the country and Church?” he asked.
Bishop Hop said he had completed his episcopal mission but is still involved in evangelization. He will be committed to cultural, educational, health care and charitable activities and hopes to work with others to serve the needy and disabled people and foster human rights and the truth, good and beauty.
Ha Tinh Diocese covering Ha Tinh and Quang Binh provinces has 145 priests serving 250,000 Catholics, accounting for 13 percent of the diocese’s population. It yearly admits 30 out of 300 candidates into the local seminary.