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Vietnam Redemptorist praised for life of selfless service

Brother Thao worked as a market cleaner and collected used items in his handcart

ucanews.com reporter, Ho Chi Minh City

ucanews.com reporter, Ho Chi Minh City

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Vietnam Redemptorist praised for life of selfless service

A Redemptorist priest offers incense in front of the coffin of Brother Peter Dinh Van Thao at his funeral at Our Mother of Perpetual Help Church in Ho Chi Minh City on May 24. (ucanews.com photo)

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Catholics in southern Vietnam have paid tribute to a Redemptorist brother for doing modest deeds to bring happiness to people and protect the environment.

Hundreds of people attended the funeral of much-loved Brother Peter Dinh Van Thao on May 24 at Our Mother of Perpetual Help Church in Ho Chi Minh City.

Brother Thao died of old age at 98 on May 22 at a house for retired Redemptorists in the city.

Redemptorist Father Peter Nguyen Van Khai said Brother Thao worked as a cleaner at a market in the city’s Can Gio district for 20 years. At first he volunteered his service and later he was paid by local authorities.

Father Khai said Brother Thao later volunteered to repair a 600-meter path connecting a church to the market. Local people showed their gratitude by calling the route “Old Brother Path.” 

The priest said Brother Thao used to tell him that he was a happy man as all people, regardless of their faith, loved him and gave him gifts and food. The brother offered them to other people in need.

Father Khai said Brother Thao was orphaned when he was a child and was adopted by a Catholic family. He experienced sufferings, so he loved the needy.

He said his confrere lived a simple life, liked to walk in bare feet and was a man of prayer who enjoyed serving others.

Father Joseph Nguyen Ngoc Bich, superior general of Vietnam’s Redemptorists, said Brother Thao only stopped working when he was 95.

Father Bich said Brother Thao was not allowed to leave his monastery for a period because he was mistaken for a beggar in public places. “But he never had the sulks,” he said in his homily at the funeral.

“I knew the late brother for 60 years and called him ‘Brother of handcart’,” Thao Mary Nguyen Kim Phuong, a local woman, told ucanews.com.

Phuong, 70, said Brother Thao protected the environment by carrying a handcart, cleaning the church compound and gathering used items on the streets.

Brother Thao joined the army before entering the Redemptorist monastery in Hanoi in 1950. After he took his final vows in 1959, he worked at many places across the country until he retired in 2016.

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