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Vietnam Catholics hail initiative to save marriages

Jesuit Father Peter Chu Quang Minh founded the Marriage-Family Enrichment Program in the US in 1987
Vietnamese couples from around the world attend the gathering at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Vang in Quang Tri on Feb. 1

Vietnamese couples from around the world attend the gathering at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Vang in Quang Tri on Feb. 1. (Photo: UCA News)

Published: February 03, 2023 11:18 AM GMT
Updated: February 03, 2023 11:44 AM GMT

Some 2,000 people gathered to mark the 35th anniversary of the Marriage-Family Enrichment Program at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Vang in the central Vietnamese province of Quang Tri.

Four bishops and 30 priests were also present at the event organized on Jan 31-Feb 2 with the theme “walking with the church, couples love one another through humility and closeness.”

Jesuit Father Peter Chu Quang Minh started the program in the US in 1987 to teach Vietnamese refugees how to live as good Catholics, maintain traditional family values and build a happy life in their new home.

Father Minh, 85, who had fled to the US in 1975, introduced the program in his home country for the first time in 2003.

Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh of Hue said they gathered to show their great determination to build happy families based on Christian values and restore traditional values that are destroyed by consumerism, insensibility, selflessness and social evils.

The archbishop, who presided at the opening ceremony, called on them to bear witness to sustainable marriage bonds and bring solidarity to themselves and other couples who are in trouble as all people dream of happy families.

They should work together to spread the spirit of the program that teaches couples how to realize and admit to their own mistakes, apologize to their spouses, correct their mistakes, and forgive one another.

Stephanus Nguyen Van Son from Tan Phu Parish of Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese, said that he and his wife started to separate in 2005 after he had a romantic relationship with another woman. His wife supports their two children.

Son, a taxi driver, admitted that his disrespect to his wife and children could have destroyed his family.

“We attended a course in solidarity by the Marriage-Family Enrichment Program for three days in 2019, and I knelt down on the ground asking her pardon for my sins and she forgave me,” the 54-year-old father said as he shared his story with the gathering.

“We are really appreciative of the program that saves our marriage,” he said, adding that more than 100 couples from the southern archdiocese attended the gathering.

Mary Do Thi Hoan from Nha Trang Diocese said she used to ignore faith practice and pick bitter quarrels with her husband, a Buddhist, for years.

Hoan, 59, said she and her husband completed a three-day course joined by 50 other couples with troubles at Vinh Thai church. They went to confession, sought spiritual healing, said prayers, attended Masses and Eucharist adoration, admitted to their mistakes, asked for pardon from their spouses, and were reconciled with one another. 

“I am over the moon that my husband and three children also embraced Catholicism,” she said.

Dominic Vu Xuan Tien from Australia said some 200 people who get married to Catholics convert to Catholicism thanks to the program that saves their marriages from breakdown.

During the three-day gathering, people listened to talks about fostering communion in family and synodality in communities, attended Masses and Eucharist adoration, recited the rosary, and shared their stories on family issues.

Over 40,000 Vietnamese couples in Vietnam, Japan, Australia, Europe and North America have joined the program.

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