Updated: May 05, 2021 11:02 AM GMT
Catholic fathers attend a special gathering to discuss the intercessions of St. Joseph at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Hue on May 3. (Photo: UCA News)
Heads of Catholic families in central Vietnam have spoken about how they overcame difficulties and bad habits thanks to St. Joseph’s power of intervention.
Some 150 fathers in Hue Archdiocese attended a special gathering called “St. Joseph Lights Families” at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Hue on May 3.
Participants listened to talks about the saint’s examples, shared their faith experiences, went to confession and attended a Mass concelebrated by 10 priests.
The event was part of a series of activities to observe the current Year of St. Joseph announced by Pope Francis.
John Le Van Phuc from Tan Thuy Parish said St. Joseph saved his two children from death.
In 2001, his 12-year-old daughter suffered food poisoning at midnight and he had to carry her on his back for more than one kilometer to a dispensary where she was taken to Hue Hospital by an ambulance. Doctors decided to perform an operation on her the following day, March 19, the feast of St. Joseph.
The saint always supports and protects our family in difficult times. We trust him absolutely
“I prayed to the foster father of Jesus on the way home to collect money to pay the hospital and he answered me. When I returned to the hospital, my daughter got better and did not need an operation,” Phuc said.
The 56-year-old father of two said that in 2018 his son was saved from drowning in a river by a bricklayer who was on his way home. The rescuer was one of four bricklayers who had erected a statue of St. Joseph at the compound of the neighboring Nam Pho Church.
“The saint always supports and protects our family in difficult times. We trust him absolutely,” he said.
James Ngo Van Xuan from Binh Dien Parish said his family always gets quiet intercession from the saint, especially during hard times.
Xuan, 69, said his first baby son and he played at being Infant Jesus and Joseph at a nativity outside the church in the 1984 Christmas Vigil Mass.
“My son did not cry but smiled in chilly weather. That taught me how to put implicit trust in God’s hands and commend our life to him. I daily follow the saint’s examples in fulfilling my fatherly roles and work hard to support my family,” the carpenter said.
The father of three said he teaches his children how to live a good life, give up personal interests for the common good, respect other people and look after animals and trees.
“We are over the moon that our son is a Cistercian and was ordained a deacon in March 2020,” Xuan said.
Redemptorist Father Joseph Dinh Tien Duc, who heads the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, said St. Joseph quietly sponsors Catholic fathers, although many of them ignore him in their hard times.
On March 19, 2020, the feast of St. Joseph, a bricklayer called to ask him to go to his home soon as he had been beaten by his wife.
The priest asked the wife why she beat her spouse. She said her husband was drinking alcohol every day and refused to go to church. His Christian name is Joseph. She works for a garment factory and has to prepare dinners for him before she goes to church each day.
Father Duc, 51, said he asked the man to apologize to his wife for his bad habits and he carried him on his motorbike to the church for Mass.
“Since then the man has given up alcohol and daily carries his wife to church,” the priest said.
We prayed to St. Joseph for one of us to be a priest and I was ordained in 2000
He said St. Joseph protected the church from damage during the Vietnam War and gathered Catholics after the war ended in 1975. Only 10 families stayed in the parish while others moved elsewhere. Now the parish is home to 150 families with 2,200 Catholics.
Father Anthony Nguyen Van Thang, who is in charge of the archdiocese’s Catholic Fathers Association, said in the past his family suffered lack of food but they daily attended Masses at the church and gathered at home to pray for their health and peace.
“We prayed to St. Joseph for one of us to be a priest and I was ordained in 2000,” said Father Thang, who has seven siblings.
He called on local people to come to the saint who loves them and walks with them to lead their families in faith practice and in hard times.
Catholic Fathers Association members based in parishes meet on the first Wednesday of each month, reflect on God’s word, study Catholic social teachings and discuss how to bring up children, protect the environment and prevent their families from diseases caused by climate change. They also visit patients, do charity work and recite rosaries and the Divine Mercy.