Hundreds of Catholics from a laity association in Vietnam’s central provinces focused on their sanctification and bringing God’s word to followers of other faiths at their recent gathering. Some 400 members of the Daughters of Mary of the Immaculate Conception Association celebrated the 15th anniversary of the laity association’s establishment at the headquarters of the Daughters of Mary of the Immaculate Conception congregation on July 18. They also marked the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the indigenous women’s congregation. Participants donning blue T-shirts and crosses were from Da Nang city and the provinces of Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue. Father Dominic Phan Hung, who serves as the association’s spiritual director, said the celebration was an opportunity to encourage members to follow Mother Mary’s virtues — faith, hope, charity, wisdom, bravery, fairness, temperance, obedience, chastity, humility and meekness — to lead a life of sanctity. They should use apostolates to build happy families and bring the Christian faith to others.
“Many people have sanctified their life by doing business fairly and honestly, establishing good relationships with their neighbors and taking care of their families,” Father Hung said. Many association members work on farms and sell food on streets to support their families. The 65-year-old priest said they recognize themselves as children of Mother Mary and are called to become holy before God. Sister Teresa Ngo Hoang Yen, who used to be in charge of the laity association, said members wanted to become salt and yeast in their families, parishes and the society. Sister Yen, 72, said that although they are laity, they pray three times daily, attend Masses and reflect on God’s word like religious. They must be faithful to their spouses, respect and protect human life, offer children faith education and do charity and evangelization. “They work with our congregation to bring the seeds of God’s word to followers of other faiths,” she said. On some feasts the congregation holds parties for non-Catholics who work with them. Paul Pham Van Ket from Phu Cam Cathedral parish said his 40-member group monthly gathers to pray, share the Word of God, study the 10 Commandments and Eight Beatitudes and discuss how to sow God’s word. Ket, 65, said members invite their non-Catholic friends or neighbors to attend their meeting and give them Bible leaflets. Then visitors share leaflets with others. “We reduce our daily expenses in Advent and save 20 million dong (US$870) to hold Christmas parties for people of other faiths,” he said. Maria Nguyen Thi Thu from Phuong Tay parish said she saves six kilograms of rice per month for people in need. “Our group with 30 members monthly offers 200 kilograms of rice to 10 poor families. We try to share what we have with other people so that they can live with dignity because all of us are children of God,” Thu said. Sister Yen said the association, established by the congregation in 2005, has 1,300 members from parishes served by the nuns in 11 dioceses across the country. “They share God’s word with 1,500 people from other faiths per year and many of them embrace Catholicism,” she said. Members and nuns visit children suffering cancer in hospitals, help people with physical disabilities and serve dying people and their funerals. The Daughters of Mary of the Immaculate Conception had six nuns on its establishment in 1920 by French Bishop Eugene Marie Joseph Allys of Hue.
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