Two archbishops and 11 new priests attend the closing ceremony of the 170th anniversary of Hue Archdiocese’s establishment on Oct. 7. (Photo: UCA News)
An archdiocese in central Vietnam has urged local Catholics to follow their ancestors to spread Catholicism and build facilities in areas that were destroyed by wars
Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh presided at a special Mass concluding the jubilee year of the 170th anniversary of Hue Archdiocese's foundation on Oct. 7 at Phu Cam Cathedral in Hue city. The ceremony was concelebrated by 160 priests and attended by 1,000 people.
Archbishop Linh said the jubilee year had brought all people together to strengthen their faith and look after victims of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
He said they must thank God that local young generations bravely pursue priestly vocations to proclaim the Good News, following in their ancestors’ footsteps.
During the Mass, he ordained 10 priests and one Benedictine.
Emeritus Archbishop Francis Xavier Le Van Hong said the jubilee year conclusion does not mean all their efforts end but is an important starting point for them to further their faith and holiness and especially promote evangelization work.
Looking back at the past 170 years, Archbishop Hong said, the Vietnam Church suffered severe pain, challenges and persecution. Since its establishment in 1850, some 10,000 local Catholics and foreign missionaries were killed for their loyalty to the Church and Jesus’ love. Many churches, convents and other church facilities were destroyed.
He said the local Church made rapid developments in the early 20th century. Many convents and schools were restored. The Church served 78,500 Catholics when it marked the 100th anniversary of its foundation in 1950.
From 1954-75, Hue Archdiocese was ruined by fierce wars. Catholics in the provinces of Quang Binh and Quang Tri had to flee to the south to avoid communists’ persecution. The Church lost 33 parishes and 155 subparishes out of its 83 parishes and 376 subparishes. In 1975, it had 22,000 Catholics.
Today the local Church serves 65,000 people and has seen a significant increase in the number of young priests and religious.
This year the archdiocese’s three women congregations have 78 nuns who are taking final vows and 35 nuns who are taking first vows. The archdiocese also has new 14 priests and seven deacons.
Archbishop Hong warned that evangelization work is not done properly. He called on local Catholics to promote evangelization in Quang Tri province’s two districts of Gio Linh and Vinh Linh, where most local Catholics had moved to the south.
Nam Tay Church was built in 2015 and Bac Cua Viet Church is under construction in Gio Linh, while Catholics in Vinh Linh have had no resident priests or churches for 45 years.
“Evangelization and re-evangelization in the two districts are the local Church’s top priority,” the 80-year-old prelate said.
Father Anthony Nguyen Ngoc Ha, head of Caritas in Hue, said local Catholics offered 45 tonnes of rice to people who were badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hue Archdiocese, covering the provinces of Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue, has 194 priests, 82 seminarians, 1,313 religious and 1,000 catechists.