Updated: May 26, 2021 11:51 AM GMT
Part of the logo of the prayer program launched by Catholic students in Vietnam.
Catholic students throughout Vietnam plan to attend online weekend prayers to strengthen their faith in overcoming the coronavirus outbreak.
Father Peter Pham Van Tuan, who is in charge of the Association of Catholic Students based in Hanoi, said a new Covid-19 wave had badly affected the lives of all people in the country and around the world.
He said people have suddenly become weak before the deadly virus and many are asking why God allows the pandemic to happen when we appeal to him in pain, fear and desperation.
"We Christians always believe that God knows our sufferings through Jesus' passion and resurrection, so surely God never abandons us," Father Tuan said in a statement on May 24.
Noting that the ties between God and people should be strengthened in the grave pandemic situation, Father Tuan called on priests, religious and all university and college students across the country to join a special prayer program on Facebook for the pandemic to end soon.
Many dioceses have suspended religious services or restricted religious activities
Father Tuan said the prayer program aims to encourage students not to fear the pandemic by keeping peace in their souls and believing in God's presence. They should be consistent in God’s love, recite prayers, associate together to overcome challenges and recognize God’s will through signs of the time.
All schools have been closed and students are asked to attend online courses because of the Covid-19 outbreak, which has spread to more than 30 of Vietnam’s 63 cities and provinces, including Ho Chi Minh City, which has shut inessential services and banned public gatherings.
The government has widened lockdown measures in industrial zones in the northern provinces of Bac Giang and Bac Ninh, the epicenters of the pandemic.
Many dioceses have suspended religious services or restricted religious activities.
On May 22, Father Michael Pham Ngoc Hai, rector of the national Marian shrine of Our Lady of La Vang in Quang Tri province, announced that the shrine would not receive groups of 20 pilgrims and above and not provide sleeping accommodation until July 15.
Father Hai asked pilgrims to protect community health by wearing face masks, washing hands with disinfectants, keeping themselves at safe distances and making health declarations.
He said he will provide further details about the Aug. 15 Feast of the Assumption of Mary, the shrine’s patroness.
On May 25, Vietnam's Health Ministry announced 444 new Covid-19 infections, the biggest jump since the 190 cases seen on May 16, driven by clusters in factory zones in Bac Giang and Bac Ninh.
Hundreds of factory workers are among the more than 2,900 infections since April 27, accounting for about half of the Southeast Asian country’s 6,000 overall cases including 44 deaths.