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Vietnam Catholics open new church after two centuries

St. Joseph Church is a positive development for the evangelization of the local community
People attend the inauguration of St. Joseph Church in Hoang Ha parish in Hung Yen province on Sept. 18

People attend the inauguration of St. Joseph Church in Hoang Ha parish in Hung Yen province on Sept. 18. (Photo: tonggiaophanhanoi.org)

Published: September 19, 2022 11:11 AM GMT
Updated: September 19, 2022 11:24 AM GMT

Catholics in a northern Vietnamese province have been urged to work for national prospects and evangelization at the inauguration of their new church and parish.

On Sept. 18, Archbishop Joseph Vu Van Thien of Hanoi and Bishop Joseph Chau Ngoc Tri of Lang Son Cao Bang concelebrated a special Mass to inaugurate St. Joseph Church in Hoang Ha parish based in Kim Dong district of Hung Yen province. Some 100 priests joined the Mass attended by a thousand people.

"We are greatly delighted to enter this new church to meet God and one another and improve our faith life," Archbishop Thien said, adding that the Gothic-style church has been a cherished dream of local people for a long time.

The prelate also announced the establishment of the new parish of Hoang Ha from the Hoang Ha sub-parish established over 200 years ago.

“This is a positive sign of the evangelization history of the local faithful community who are expected to be in harmony and united to foster their faith life and willingly tell Christ’s story to other people,” he said.

He also thanked a local couple for making generous donations to the building of the 480-square-meter church with a bell tower reaching a height of 42.5 meters.

In his homily, Bishop Tri congratulated local people for their efforts in making their lifelong dream of the church come true.

He called on them to “continue to cherish other dreams of national peace and prosperity, of families of happiness, and of effective evangelization work.” They also should choose God as their own master in their daily life.  

Before the Mass, local people clapped and waved white and yellow flags and colorful balloons, while others in traditional ethnic clothes banged gongs and played saxophones along the road leading to the church set in a beautiful position amid green fields welcoming the bishops and priests.

Father Peter Do Van Chung, the pastor of Hoang Ha parish, said the historic event will encourage all local people to be aware of their duties to build up the parish, actively take part in church activities and especially bring Christian values to people around them.

Hoang Ha parish is one of only two local parishes that are under the archdiocese's administration, and other parishes are within the Thai Binh diocese.

Foreign missionaries introduced Catholicism to local people in the late 18th century. Local people at first gathered for prayers at their houses and later erected a leaf-made chapel.

They built another wood chapel in 1887 and used it for 100 years until they had to move to the present position to avoid severe floods. They bought more surrounding land and started to construct the new church. The archdiocese offered them 300 million dongs ($13,000) as active encouragement to realize their dream.

They also built a pastoral house and big statues of Our Lady of La Vang and St. Joseph in the compound of the church.

On Sept. 16, Emeritus Auxiliary Bishop Lawrance Chu Van Minh of Hanoi publicly opened the newly-built convent of the motherhouse of the Lovers of the Holy Cross of Hanoi, replacing the old one.

In recent years, Catholics in the archdiocese have built many churches, pastoral centers and other facilities to meet their increasing religious needs. They had many of their facilities confiscated by the communist government in the past, and other old facilities were in a bad condition.

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