Hundreds of faithful attend pre-synod seminar to make long-term plans for evangelization in the coming years
Participants attend the pre-synod seminar at So Kien church on May 14. (Photo: tonggiaophanhanoi.org)
For almost four decades Peter Nguyen Phuc Khanh lived without his Catholic faith. But he recently joined back after two Catholics from his Hanoi archdiocese visited him several times and persuaded him to join the Church.
“What they said really touched my heart and I decided to change my life, learn the catechism, and receive sacraments,” Khanh told a May 14 seminar organized by the Hanoi archdiocese.
Just like Peter, some 200 Catholics in the Hanoi archdiocese recounted their personal experiences of faith, stressing that sharing faith experiences with others is an effective way of evangelization.
The participants came from all parishes in the capital and neighboring provinces. It was part of several pre-synodal seminars being organized ahead of the Hanoi Archdiocesan synod scheduled for Nov. 19-24.
Archbishop Joseph Vu Van Thien of Hanoi, vicar general Father Anthony Nguyen Van Thang and scores of archdiocesan priests and the religious were present at the seminar that discussed the theme “Evangelization means sharing experience in divine love”
Father Anthony Tran Quang Tuyen, who is in charge of evangelization work in the local church, said the event aimed at creating opportunities for participants to show their real concern for evangelization and for Church leaders to make long-term plans for evangelization in coming years.
Khanh now a member of Son Tay parish said his life changed after two members of the Legion of Mary visited him several times and shared about God’s love for people.
He is now part of the local Legion of Mary and takes part in Church activities.
“I feel God loves and offers me much grace and I am determined to tell other people about his love so that they can enjoy life to the full,” Khanh, who serves as a catechist, said.
Archbishop Thien plans to establish more Legion of Mary groups to reach out and introduce Catholic values to those who seek God’s love.
Another participant, Joseph Nguyen Van Man, said he used to work in transportation services and ignored faith practice.
Man said he has improved his faith life since he joined the Legion of Mary based at Binh Cach parish. He was among the first five members as the establishment of the lay group that now numbers 200.
The legionary said he has seven communist party members who work at a commune be baptized. “To evangelize well, we have to be full of enthusiasm and fervently pray to God to work on them,” he said.
An old woman said she is proud of being a daughter of God who always blesses her family members.
“I take part in evangelization work and I am greatly delighted to help an old man who left the Church for 60 years to return to the Church,” she told the seminar.
Anna Hoang Thi Le from Boi Ha parish said she was not baptized until she was 17 as her father is a non-Catholic. She had no opportunity to learn catechism for years and finally took the same course for First Communion as her child.
Le said she gave up a job at a kindergarten and offers courses in the catechism for 30 children at her home.
“I feel God’s love for me and I want to do something useful for others so that they can live a happy life,” she said.
Father Paul Nguyen Trung Thien, who teaches at Hanoi-based St. Joseph Major Seminary, said evangelization is the nature of the Church and Christians must show Catholicism is a religion of love to other people throughout their lives.
Father Thien warned that the pandemic left countless people in poverty, depression and weariness, and consequently many are insensitive to others’ feelings.
He urged local Catholics to come to people in need and help them enjoy divine love and overcome challenges.
Many other participants talked about the challenges preventing them from evangelization. They have no experience in God’s love for themselves, lack Church knowledge, are unfairly prejudiced against their personal life, dare not show their Catholic identity in public places, and get no support from priests and the religious.
Archbishop Thien said the local Church will establish more Legion of Mary groups at parishes so that legionaries can reach out to and introduce Catholic values to those who seek God’s love.
Hanoi archdiocese is holding a series of pre-synod seminars on issues relating to priests, religious, youths, catechists, students, choir members, old people, families, charitable work, vocations, priestly formation, environment protection, building facilities and social communication.
The synod aims at marking two significant milestones in its history and making pastoral plans for the future.
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