Catholics flock to the Mass marking the 350th anniversary of Bishop Pierre Lambert de la Motte’s arrival in Nha Trang at Cho Moi Church on Sept. 6. (Photo: UCA News)
Catholics from a southern central diocese in Vietnam are called on to grow faith seeds from their ancestors as they celebrate the jubilee year of their first bishop’s visit.
On Sept. 6, Bishop Joseph Vo Duc Minh of Nha Trang launched the jubilee year to mark the 350th anniversary of Bishop Pierre Lambert de la Motte’s first pastoral visit to local parishes at Cho Moi Church in the coastal city of Nha Trang.
Some 40 priests including a representative from the Paris Foreign Missions Society (MEP) joined the special Mass attended by 1,000 people.
Local authorities lifted social distancing measures to stem Covid-19 in the area on Sept. 5.
“We are happy to be in the land where our ancestors blissfully received Bishop Motte. God chose the land to receive the apostolic successor,” Bishop Minh told the congregation.
The prelate said Bishop de la Motte was the first bishop of Dang Trong (Cochinchine) Vicariate that was established in 1659 and covered southern Vietnam including Nha Trang Diocese.
He was accompanied by two foreign missionaries and two Vietnamese priests from Siam and arrived at Lam Tuyen fishing village, now Cho Moi Parish, on the evening of Sept. 1, 1671. At that time Catholics faced severe religious persecution.
Catholics flocked to meet the French bishop and asked him to bless them. The bishop administered confirmation to 200 children and some adults while the visiting priests heard confessions from the faithful.
The MEP member established Lam Tuyen Parish and assigned Father Gulielmo Mahot to the new parish. He established the Lovers of the Holy Cross congregation for local women. His delegation also paid visits to other parishes in the area.
Bishop Minh, 76, said foreign missionaries came only to be present among their ancestors, offered pastoral care and blessed them and their land.
“Catholicism only loves and tends to all people in the name of Jesus Christ, our only savior,” he said.
The bishop urged the faithful to show deep gratitude to their foreign missionaries and ancestors who sacrificed themselves to growing and transferring faith seeds to them in hard times.
He said they should be proud of their ancestors who were absolutely faithful to the Church, maintained religious lives, enjoyed strong faith and bravely bore witness to the Good News.
“We should love, help, listen to, work with and live in harmony with one another and welcome all initiatives to develop the blessed land and bring good things to our society,” he said.
Bishop Minh said Vietnamese bishops had assigned him to prepare documents for the sainthood cause of Bishop de la Motte.
Cho Moi Parish, which is home to many martyrs, has over 3,000 Catholics.
Nha Trang Diocese, established in 1957, covers the provinces of Khanh Hoa and Ninh Thuan, which are home to 115 parishes served by nearly 300 priests.