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Vietnam Catholics pay homage to late French missionary

Father Paul Carat was a member of the Paris Foreign Missions Society and served in Hanoi Archdiocese and Kontum Diocese

UCA News reporter, Hanoi

UCA News reporter, Hanoi

Published: December 02, 2021 09:10 AM GMT

Updated: December 02, 2021 12:10 PM GMT

Vietnam Catholics pay homage to late French missionary

Vietnam Catholics in mourning offer flowers and incense in front of Father Paul Carat’s altar at Tuy Hien Church in Hanoi on Nov. 30. (Photo courtesy of tonggiaophanhanoi.org)

Catholics in Hanoi paid their last respects to a French missionary who spent his life working for their welfare and development.

Father Paul Carat passed away at the ripe old age of 100 at L'Herbasse in France on Nov. 24. He had served in Vietnam’s Hanoi Archdiocese and Kontum Diocese for 25 years from 1952 to 1976. His funeral was held at St. Donnat Church on Nov. 30.

A special Mass was celebrated in his honor by Father Anthony Nguyen Van Do, parish priest of Tuy Hien Church, on Nov. 30.

Local Catholics in white mourning headbands offered incense and flowers at the deceased priest's altar decorated with large wreaths at the center of the church before the Mass.

The celebration at the parish with 4,300 members was an expression of their heartfelt gratitude and respect for priests who served among local Catholics.

Father Carat, whose Vietnamese name was Paul Le Xuan Ca, was assigned to the parish from 1955 to 1958. He was a member of the Paris Foreign Missions Society (MEP).

Although I am no longer in Vietnam, my heart is firmly attached to this country and this Church

As a foreign missionary, he could not approach local people due to the political situation, but “one thing is for sure — he always put his heart into the parish and tried his best to take care of the flock," said a parish message.

His devotion was evident from what he wrote: “Although I am no longer in Vietnam, my heart is firmly attached to this country and this Church. I always pray for Vietnam to be a wealthy, developed and peaceful country in the world."

Redemptorist Father Peter Nguyen Van Khai said that after landing in Hanoi in 1952, Father Carat served the subparishes of Phu Yen and Phu Gia, and Thuong Thuy Parish near Hanoi. He also provided pastoral services for soldiers in the provinces of Dien Bien, Hoa Binh, Lai Chau and Son La.

In 1955, Bishop Joseph Mary Trinh Nhu Khue of Hanoi assigned him to the parishes of Dong Chiem, Nghia Ai and Tuy Hien in an area controlled by communist forces.

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He worked at Ham Long Parish from 1958 until 1960 when he was expelled to France by the government. MEP members ended their missions in northern Vietnam after nearly 300 years.

Father Carat returned to Saigon in 1961 and cared for Loc Ninh Parish before starting to work among ethnic villagers in Kontum Diocese the following year. He and other missionaries, religious and catechists were arrested and detained in forests in May 1972 by communist forces. He was released in August that year.

He served a parish in Binh Dinh province from 1974 until 1976 when he was expelled from the country. But he returned to Vietnam and revisited his parishes many times after 1987.

The French missionary authored five books recollecting what he witnessed and experienced during his missionary service in Vietnam.

“They are readable books about great suffering the local Church endured from 1945 in the north and from 1975 in the south under communist rule,” Father Khai said.

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