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Catholic volunteers in Vietnam recount serving Covid patients

It was not only an unforgettable experience but a wonderful chance to bring our love to all people, says a Franciscan novice

UCA News reporter, Hanoi

UCA News reporter, Hanoi

Published: October 15, 2021 10:24 AM GMT

Updated: October 15, 2021 05:42 PM GMT

Catholic volunteers in Vietnam recount serving Covid patients

Catholic religious volunteers perform an action song at a ceremony closing their voluntary services at Covid-19 hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on Oct. 13. (Photo courtesy of tgpsaigon.net)

Catholic priests and religious in Vietnam shared their experiences of serving patients infected by the coronavirus at the end of their month-long voluntary services at two hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City.

The 76 religious volunteers from 13 congregations and societies had gathered at a formal ceremony held by the city's Vietnamese Fatherland Front, an umbrella organization of the communist government.

Ho Chi Minh City has lifted social distancing measures as the Covid-19 pandemic has eased after having ravaged the city and its surrounding regions for the past three months. Doctors say the number of infections and deaths has reduced dramatically in the past few days.

St. Rose of Lime Dominican Sister Mary Dao Thi Phuong recalled a retired official ascribing his 97-year-old mother's astonishing recovery to the religious volunteers' tender loving care at the Covid-19 intensive care hospital.

After her discharge, he texted the nun: “It’s a miracle that you — who are sent by God to help her, isn’t it? Thank you very, very much!”

Sister Phuong said it is God and Mother of the Rosary who as the source of love saved her.

They put their absolute trust in my prayers. I will remember them and their loved ones who asked me to pray for them

Jesuit Father Joseph Nguyen Ngoc Khang said administering sacraments to and accompanying patients at the hospital made a strong impression on him.

“I see that their eyes convey a lot of things. They put their absolute trust in my prayers. I will remember them and their loved ones who asked me to pray for them,” he said.

Oblates of the Assumption Sister Teresa Nguyen Thi Hoan shared her painful experience of watching a patient die.

As she knelt down on the floor, a doctor patted her shoulder and said: “Please calm down. What needs to be done now is to pray for him.” It made her feel a bit more at ease but she could not finish her shift that day.

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Peter Nguyen Duc Canh, a Franciscan novice, said it is a rare opportunity for local religious to serve coronavirus patients at hospitals even as they are trained in doing pastoral work at parishes, communities and homes for orphans, disabled people and the elderly.

“This is not only an unforgettable experience but a wonderful chance for us to bring our love to all people as God loves us,” he said.

Phan Kieu Thanh Huong, deputy of the Fatherland Front, praised the religious volunteers for spreading the message of love, especially through their prayers for dead patients, gladdening the hearts of their relatives.

Dr. Le Anh Tuan said patients would not have been cared for well without the 387 Catholic volunteers.

Father Joseph Dao Nguyen Vu, speaking on behalf of Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese, said the volunteers’ mission is to bring all sections of society closer together.

He said the neighboring dioceses of Ba Ria, Phu Cuong and Xuan Loc also sent hundreds of volunteers to serve hospitals as frontline forces.

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