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Vietnam

Vietnam Catholics pray for those claimed by Covid-19

Catholics find succor and strength in their faith as they grieve for the departed

UCA News reporter, Ho Chi Minh City

UCA News reporter, Ho Chi Minh City

Published: October 22, 2021 04:33 AM GMT

Updated: October 22, 2021 04:55 AM GMT

Vietnam Catholics pray for those claimed by Covid-19

Catholics pray before restoring the urns of their deceased relatives in Loc Hung Church’s columbarium on Oct. 17. (Photo supplied)

Lovers of the Holy Cross Sister Mary Doan Thi Duyen Lanh returned home and joined her family at their mother's funeral and stored the urn containing her ashes in Nam Hoa Church in Ho Chi Minh City on Oct. 17.

Sister Lanh said her 79-year-old mother died of Covid-19 on Aug. 28 and was cremated but they could not mark her funeral due to social distancing measures that were lifted early this month. Eight of her relatives were also infected with the contagion and recovered.

“We absolutely trust in divine providence, accept the great loss and pray to God to lend us strength to overcome these hard times,” the mourning nun said.

Tens of other urns of those who have died since the Delta variant outbreak in May were also placed in the church’s columbarium that day, when Catholics across the country joined prayers for healing the pandemic launched by Vietnamese bishops.

Vincent Nguyen Trong Hieu, conductor of the parish’s choir, restored three urns of his dead relatives in the columbarium. “Our relatives’ passing is from God’s will, so the losses are an opportunity to remind us to renew our lives,” he said.

Hieu, 52, said his 15-year-old daughter got infected with the disease and then it spread quickly through other members of his large extended family. Five members became seriously ill and were hospitalized, and three of them died in August.

We are deeply moved by the big hearts of local people who have walked with us during the pandemic and today attend Masses to pray for us

“We have such excruciating pain that they departed this life without last sacraments and beloved ones around,” he said. Their urns were given to them by soldiers.

“We at home tried to overcome the disease by praying the rosary, singing hymns and trusting in divine mercy. God answered our prayers when other members were discharged from the hospital,” he said.

Hieu, who teaches music for a living, said his family were visited and consoled by local Catholics during the pandemic.

As soon as restrictions were removed from the city in early October, Father Francis Xavier Dau Nguyen Nguyen Hoang Linh and parish council members paid visits to those whose relatives died of Covid-19.

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“They offered incense in front of the altars of the dead, comforted the living and gave them 5 million dong (US$220) per death,” Hieu said.

“We are deeply moved by the big hearts of local people who have walked with us during the pandemic and today attend Masses to pray for us,” he said.

Local churches are required to have Masses with a maximum attendance of 60 fully vaccinated people to contain the pandemic.

Joseph Dang Van Chien, who is in charge of the columbarium in Hoa Hung Church, said nine Masses were held at the church on Oct. 17 to pray for those who died of Covid-19. Hoa Hung Parish recorded over 60 local deaths.

Chien said the parish has created favorable conditions for people to commemorate their dead relatives. They celebrate mourning rites at their homes and place urns in the church for people to pray before restoring them in the columbarium.

The priest said the parish houses those urns freely as a way to share the suffering with their families

He said the columbarium, built seven years ago, houses the urns of local people without charge.

During the outbreak, many parishes in the city have used social media to announce death notices and call on local communities to pray for the dead.

Father Dominic Dang Quoc Hung, pastor of Loc Hung Parish which has recorded 46 Covid-19 deaths, called on Catholics “to gratefully thank God for saving us from the contagion and fervently pray for those who died instead of us.”

The priest said the parish houses those urns freely as a way to share the suffering with their families.

Bishops called on local people to fast and do charitable work on Oct. 22 to help Covid-19 victims.

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