An archdiocese in southern Vietnam has demonstrated care for the poor though provision of a special meal. More than 600 elderly and disabled people of different faiths had a hearty lunch at the Bishop's House in Ho Chi Minh City Nov. 19. The event to mark the first World Day of the Poor, initiated by Pope Francis, was attended by Archbishop Paul Bui Van Doc and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Do Manh Hung of Ho Chi Minh City. "The meal is an opportunity for the local church to concretely show mercy, care and respect to our brothers and sisters
who are in poor conditions," Archbishop Doc told participants. As well as food and other gifts, each participant was given US$13. Paul Bui Van Lien, who lost the sight of both eyes in 1976 when he struck an unexploded shell with a hoe at a farm, said he had not tasted such delicious food for a long time. "I am happy to have lunch with the archbishop
here," he said. Lien, 65, who receives a monthly allowance of 10 kilograms of rice from Caritas workers, said he felt loved and respected by people of the church. The money given to him at the lunch would be used to buy medicine when he got sick, Lien said. Tran Thi Tan Van, a Buddhist, said this was the first time she had joined a big meal with Catholics. Van, 60, who suffers from kidney failure, said Caritas workers carried her to the venue. "I take comfort and spiritual strength from the meal where all people are friendly and kind to one another," she said. Father Vincent Vu Ngoc Dong, head of Caritas in Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese, called on all parishes to help those living in poverty. In his message for World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis said sharing with the poor enabled the faithful to understand the deepest truths of the Gospel.