Catholics in Vietnam’s largest archdiocese have been asked to pray for their late bishops and priests as their duty to venerate their ancestors. On Nov. 12, hundreds of Catholics attended a special Mass at Chi Hoa Church in Ho Chi Minh City to venerate late bishops and priests who had devoted their lives in service, and they prayed for them to be in heaven. Apostolic administrator Bishop Joseph Do Manh Hung of Ho Chi Minh City presided at the Mass, which was also attended by visiting Archbishop Zbignev Stankevics from Latvia and 170 local priests. Bishop Hung said Catholics had a duty during November, the month for the dead, to visit the graves of late clergy and pray for them to be in heaven as a form of remembrance and gratitude. He said that local bishops and priests had brought countless graces to God’s people during their lives but now that they could not do anything for themselves, they eagerly awaited our prayers.
Bishop Hung said only a few people lived a perfect life, so since most died with sins they needed time to be purified in purgatory before their souls go to heaven. He urged the congregation to attend daily Masses, do charitable work, recite the rosary and do penance to appeal to God to help take their ancestors to heaven as a way of conveying deep reverence for them. Save their souls
After the Mass, people visited the old cemetery near the church for local bishops and priests, where they put flowers and incense on graves and said prayers. The cemetery is home to more than 200 graves of priests and bishops, including foreign missionaries, who served the archdiocese. Anna Nguyen Thi Nhuan, 75, said she had visited the cemetery and prayed for the deceased clergymen many times in the first few days of November as her way of showing her filial duty to those who had passed. “When they were alive, they prayed for us and served us, so now we should do something useful to save their souls from purgatory,” Nhuan said. The mother of six said her uncle had been a priest and was buried in the cemetery in 1968, so her family members regularly visited his grave. Another participant, Martha Hoang Thi Hong, said she visited the graves of local priests on a daily basis during the month. The cemetery is open every day. Hong said she cleaned and decorated the graves with flowers, put incense on them and prayed for the deceased. “I also appeal to them to pray for me to follow my religious vocation and live a good life like them,” said the 18-year-old, a novice of a local society of apostolic life. Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese has one million Catholics who are served by 830 religious and diocesan priests.
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