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'Please be grateful to women in your family'

A Vietnamese elderly priest pays tribute to all women, young and old, rich and poor, on International Women's Day

An ethnic woman seen with her children in Kontum Diocese

An ethnic woman seen with her children in Kontum Diocese. (Photo courtesy Father Peter Nguyen Van Dong)

Published: March 08, 2023 12:15 PM GMT

Updated: March 09, 2023 04:01 AM GMT

Today March 8, the International Day of Women, I miss my late mother who gave birth to me and spent all her life bringing up me and my siblings under tough circumstances.

I was born in 1941, the year of the Snake. Personal papers show that I am 82 years old, but I consider myself 83 years old. That is because I was carried in her womb, living and growing thanks to her blood for nine months and ten days before giving birth. So I must be 83 years old. That's right!

My younger sisters got married and are mothers. Although their children are grown up, married and have children, they still shed burning tears every time they learn that their children suffer life-threatening illnesses. Such is the heart of mothers. How flawed are those who are not grateful to their mothers.

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I have worked with a good many poor women from various ethnic groups. They eat only rice with salt and give good food to their children. Many who give birth without breast milk and have no money to buy milk carry their babies in their arms to me and ask for help. They are as thin as a rake and their children are sickly. How great are the hearts of mothers!

So whoever doesn't love their mothers doesn't know how to think!

As a priest, on International Women's Day, I remember Catholic sisters who are also women. Some 650 sisters from 27 religious orders provide free basic education, health care, vocational skills, accommodation, faith education, and pastoral care for orphans, children, youths, patients, and people with physical disabilities in Kontum Diocese. They run 30 hostels for 3,000 poor ethnic students from remote areas to pursue their studies at public schools.

Many people have been educated, are grown up, and are successful in their lives thanks to the sisters' loving care. The sacrifice of the sisters for poor ethnic villagers in the diocese is truly great! They sacrifice themselves to love, tend to, and teach other people without blood relations and the same race.

How noble they are! Only faith makes them so great. The power of the world fails to do that.

Happy International Women's Day, Sisters! On behalf of the poor, I would like to say a big thanks to the sisters for all your humanitarian work!

I have been serving as a priest for more than 50 years and nuns always walk with me in all pastoral activities. I am deeply indebted to each of them.

Now many sisters died, some are in ill health because of their age, and others still work hard in the mission field.

Today is International Women's Day, I, Father Peter Nguyen Van Dong would like to bow my head to express my warmest thanks to the sisters who have shared joys and sorrows with me for the past over 50 years.

I would like to call all people to pray for the sisters who have passed away, for the elderly sisters to be healthy and peaceful, and for those who are still sweating over the field of God to never stop.

Finally, I wish all women young and old, rich and poor to live out the womanly qualities that God gives them. They must be good mothers, good nuns, and good singles.

Please be grateful to and cherish the women in your family.

Father Peter Nguyen Van Dong is a former vicar general of the Kontum Diocese in Vietnam’s Central Highlands. This article was summarized and translated by a UCA News reporter from a Vietnamese article published by Father Dong here. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.


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