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Vietnam Catholics urged to care for Covid victims at Advent

Archbishop Nang says hope motivates them to take pandemic victims and orphans into their pastoral care

UCA News reporter, Hue

UCA News reporter, Hue

Published: November 29, 2021 05:07 AM GMT

Updated: December 01, 2021 02:33 AM GMT

Vietnam Catholics urged to care for Covid victims at Advent

Father Francis Xavier Nguyen Thien Nhan (right) and a volunteer offer Advent gifts to a Buddhist family in Hue on Nov 23. (Photo: UCA News)

Catholics in many dioceses of Vietnam are called on to provide loving care for people affected by the coronavirus outbreak during Advent as infections are on the rise.

Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Nang of Ho Chi Minh City said Advent and Christmas always breathe new life into people's hearts as Christmas is a season of light, joy and hope.

Noting the dark shadow of Covid-19 has been cast over human life the past two years, the 68-year-old prelate said here was a time when the world was full of fear and sadness of the contagion but “we held on to hope and experienced what Christian hope is.”

"We pray not for God to do for us but for him to work in us and with us. Christians pray not to give all their work to God but to appeal to him to offer them love, wisdom and strength to transform history,” he said, adding that God does not work miracles to end the pandemic in an instant but gives grace to people to find medicines for the sick and join hands in solidarity to come to aid of the poor.

Urging the faithful to hold on to hope to build a world of peace in the new normal, the archbishop said: "Surely the future will be full of trials and tribulations, but God be with you to help you overcome difficulties and live in peace."

Noting that they do not know what 2022 will be like, he called on them always to live in hope and believe in God's love expressed in the Christmas mystery: For God so loved the world he gave his one and only son to save the world through him.

Whatever the situation may be, we Catholics never forget those who are in need of our help

Archbishop Nang said hope also motivates them to continue taking Covid-19 victims and orphans into their pastoral care in the new year.

All churches in the city have resumed services in limited attendances to contain the pandemic since October. 

Bishop Thomas Vu Dinh Hieu of Bui Chu said Advent reminds Christians to prepare their souls to receive God into their souls so that they, their families, communities and the entire Church and society will be transformed and sanctified.

Bishop Hieu said while preparing their lives for celebration of Christmas, they should not forget to care for numerous people who have been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic that is still evolving in a complicated manner in his diocese.

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The head of Caritas Vietnam said many patients need to be given medical treatment, and numerous families are kept in isolated centers, suffering a lack of basic food, medical supplies and psychological problems due to tight restrictions.

The prelate urged local people to fervently pray to God to offer his grace to victims, families and their relatives so that they could overcome the hard times.

He said that they should “share food and other basic needs with them as a way to show solidarity, love and service in the season.”

Bishop Hieu said this Advent season also reminds them to cling to the hope that Christ not only offers them great support and consolation in difficult times but helps the world find effective ways to stem the contagion if they put absolute trust in God.

Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh of Hue warned that the number of infections that waned for a while had suddenly flared up again in Vietnam.

"Until now, no one knows when to rule out the raging pandemic, but whatever the situation may be, we Catholics never forget those who are in need of our help," Archbishop Linh said.

The prelate said he is full of the joys of spring that local people had granted humanitarian aid to Covid-19 victims in Ho Chi Minh City and other southern provinces.

"Please continue to do so in the coming days. That is the only way for us to gradually reverse the pandemic," he said.

The head of Vietnamese bishops said they will celebrate the Advent season of waiting for God to come and save humanity stricken by pandemics, wars and natural disasters. God is expected to save the Vietnamese people who are in hazardous situations, even on the brink of starvation.

“We still have the confidence that only God has the power to restore our peace. I hope you get at the truth in these challenging times,” he said.

We are completely powerless to change history but we can work with God to make the world a better place every day

He called on people to bravely overcome the winter of disappointment and enter into the Spring of Salvation, manifested in the incarnation of the Son of God.

“We are completely powerless to change history but we can work with God to make the world a better place every day. The secret of success will be within our reach, if we know how to bring the spirit of synodality of the Synod of Bishops into our personal, family, social and church life,” he said.

Joachim Nguyen Chau from Phu Hau Parish said that since early this month all schools with 35,000 students in Thua Thien Hue province have closed and moved to online courses after scores of students were infected with Covid-19. Local Catholics also have to attend online services.

His parish set up a group of 20 volunteers including him on Nov. 14.

“Our fear about infection disappears when we see our brothers and sisters suffer lack of food and mental problems,” Chau said, adding that they daily deliver rice, bread and vegetables to people in isolated places. Local benefactors make donations to the parish.  

Father Francis Xavier Nguyen Thien Nhan, parish priest of Phu Hau Church, said the parish with 600 members suspended Masses but still continues charitable work. Volunteers make 400 loaves of bread per day at the bakery in the parish house and provide for people in need.

On Nov. 28, Vietnam recorded 12,928 infections and 190 deaths. It has had 1,209,373 cases and 24,882 deaths since the pandemic hit the country in early 2020.

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