Local Catholics attend the opening of the new pastoral center in Hanoi on Oct. 7. (Photo: tonggiaophanhanoi.org)
Archbishops and bishops from the country's 27 dioceses concelebrated a special Mass on Oct 7 to mark the opening of a new pastoral center in the capital, Hanoi.
The Mass held at St. Joseph Cathedral also marked the feast of Mary of the Rosary and concluded the national congress of bishops.
The event was joined by hundreds of priests and attended by thousands of people, many of whom had to follow proceedings via big screens outside the cathedral.
"The pastoral center is a work of faith and solidarity in the great family of the archdiocese. Some 350,000 local Catholics are the center's benefactors," Archbishop Joseph Vu Van Thien of Hanoi said.
Archbishop Thien, who sprinkled holy water over the new building, said the pastoral center is expected to meet the basic needs of local people who have had a strong wish for such a facility for decades.
The prelate said the 12-story building next to the cathedral and St. Joseph Major Seminary is expected to meet the basic requirements of the local Church by hosting meetings and retreats and offering training courses for local priests, religious and laypeople. It also aims at building solidarity among them so that they are able to set out and proclaim Jesus and spread his teachings in all contexts of society.
The archbishop, who was just elected as vice-president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam for a three-year term, said the center built over two years has a chapel, a 400-seat hall, meeting room, dining room, library, basement car park, study rooms, staff accommodation and 216 guest rooms. The center will display old Christian items such as books, lamps, candlesticks, bells, thuribles and other items from local parishes.
The archdiocesan ministry committees and the Martyr Peter Le Tuy Institute of Theology with over 100 students from various local congregations and institutions are also based at the center.
In his homily, Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Nang of Ho Chi Minh City said the pastoral center is a clear sign of the spirit of synodality in which local Catholics showed their solidarity and participation by prayers, sacrifices and donations for the facility.
Archbishop Nang said the center will host the archdiocesan synod that will be convened to mark the 110th anniversary of the Ke So Council, an important event in the history of the Vietnamese Church, in November.
The new president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam said the synod aims at building a synodal church.
He also called on local people to pay close attention to society's most vulnerable — the sick, elderly people without relatives, domestic migrants, victims of natural disasters — who live in desperate situations.
Bishop Joseph Do Manh Hung, the new secretary-general of the Vietnam bishops conference, congratulated Hanoi archdiocese on the big beautiful building that will host religious activities in the archdiocese and other dioceses.
Hanoi archdiocese has not been able to host a biannual meeting of local prelates for the past 15 years due to a lack of proper facilities.