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Vietnam

First Hmong priest ordained in Vietnam

Father Joseph Ma A Ca is expected to increase evangelization among ethnic groups

UCA News reporter, Hanoi

UCA News reporter, Hanoi

Published: October 16, 2021 06:20 AM GMT

Updated: October 16, 2021 04:58 PM GMT

First Hmong priest ordained in Vietnam

Hmong Father Joseph Ma A Ca was ordained on Oct. 13. (Photo supplied)

Catholics in a northern Vietnamese diocese expect a new Hmong ethnic priest to carry out evangelization effectively among ethnic groups. 

Bishop Peter Nguyen Van Vien, apostolic administrator of Hung Hoa, ordained Hmong man Joseph Ma A Ca and 10 others at Son Loc Cathedral in Son Tay town near Hanoi on Oct. 13.

Local Catholics including the new priests’ family members were not present at the ordination due to social distancing measures to contain Covid-19.

Dominican Sister Mary Cu Thi Quynh Hoa, the first nun from the Hmong ethnic group, said: “We are full of the joys of spring about his priestly ordination and gratefully thank God for granting us the first Hmong priest since Catholicism was introduced to our ancestors over a century ago.”

Sister Hoa, who is from Giang La Pan Parish dominated by Hmong Catholics in Yen Bai province, said Father Ca's ordination will boost evangelization work among ethnic people and inspire youths to follow religious vocations to serve their communities.

Born in 1983 in a Hmong family with 11 siblings, Father Ca, a native of Hau Thao Parish in Lao Cai province, graduated from college before entering St. Joseph Major Seminary in Hanoi in 2011. He was spiritually led by Father Peter Pham Thanh Binh of Sa Pa.

The first Hmong villagers in Sa Pa in Lao Cai province embraced Catholicism from foreign missionaries during the 1850s

“My top priority is to evangelize ethnic villagers, offer education to ethnic children and maintain their traditions, culture, language and costumes,” he said after he was ordained a deacon in February 2020.

Father Ca, who has served Dong Heo Parish with 1,700 Hmong Catholics in Yen Bai since 2020, said 66 Hmong people embraced Catholicism last year.

Sister Hoa, who has worked with ethnic groups in Bac Kan province for years, said effective evangelization comes from ethnic people working with one another as they know their own lifestyles and customs well.

The Hmong nun said she has inspired six ethnic women to join three indigenous congregations.

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The first Hmong villagers in Sa Pa in Lao Cai province embraced Catholicism from foreign missionaries during the 1850s. Later Hmong Catholics moved to other northwestern provinces and founded more mission stations.

Hung Hoa Diocese, which serves 20,000 Hmong Catholics, has 16 seminarians and a dozen religious from the Hmong group.

The country’s largest diocese in terms of territory has 261,000 Catholics in 136 parishes and 700 subparishes in nine provinces and part of Hanoi. They are served by 174 priests including the newly ordained ones.

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