Catholics attend the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Sept. 8 at Hanoi Church in Ho Chi Minh City. (Photo courtesy of tgpsaigon.net)
One archdiocese and four dioceses in southern Vietnam have resumed normal religious services six weeks after a massive surge in Covid-19 cases.
Father Peter Kieu Cong Tung, chancellor of Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese, said the spread of Covid-19 has been limited some 40 days after a sudden increase in cases in Da Nang city.
Father Tung said there have been no new community infections in Ho Chi Minh City thanks to strong measures implemented effectively.
Vietnam’s most active archdiocese with 889 priests had suspended all its religious services since July 31.
Father Tung called on Catholics “to share the good news with the local community and thank God for spiritual experiences and messages they received from the deadly pandemic.”
He asked local priests and Catholic communities to resume all pastoral activities and liturgical services as per usual from the evening of Sept. 7.
He warned that they should always be “vigilant and ready” to deal with Covid-19 by strictly obeying precautionary measures advised by health officials.
The priest called on Catholics to continue making daily sacrifices and good deeds and pray for the world to escape the coronavirus crisis soon.
Anna Nguyen Thi Nhuan from Tong Viet Buong Parish said she is happy to attend daily Masses and receive the Eucharist at church. In the past she followed online Masses.
The mother of six said it is good for local Catholics to resume religious activities — children take catechism classes while adults receive sacraments.
She said many people, especially children, would ignore church activities and religious life if the social distancing lasted longer.
Bishop Joseph Dang Duc Ngan of Da Nang allowed religious activities in Quang Nam province to return to normal on Sept. 6 after local authorities relaxed social distancing measures.
Da Nang city, which is the country’s epicenter of the pandemic, still bans all public gatherings and religious services.
Nha Trang Diocese in central Vietnam has reopened daily services and gatherings with many people since Sept. 5 after the local government allowed religious activities, wedding parties, bars, discotheques, massage parlors, karaoke bars and other public services to reopen.
The dioceses of Ba Ria and Xuan Loc earlier returned to normal life.
The archdioceses of Hanoi and Hue, and four dioceses of Ban Me Thuot, Can Tho, Da Lat, Hung Hoa and Phu Cuong, are continuing to suspend all religious activities with high attendances as a way to stem the deadly pandemic.
As of Sept. 8, the Southeast Asian country had reported 1,054 Covid-19 cases including 35 deaths.