Updated: September 20, 2021 02:17 AM GMT
Young Daughters of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary sisters sing songs at a Sept 6 celebration to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of their order at their motherhouse in Nam Dinh Province. (Photo: courtesy of dongmancoibuichu.net)
Sisters from a once-persecuted indigenous order in northern Vietnam expressed gratitude to their oppressed predecessors earlier this month as they celebrated the 75th anniversary of the congregation’s founding.
Some 100 sisters from the Daughters of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary marked the event on Sept 6 at their motherhouse in Xuan Truong district of Nam Dinh province.
Bishop Thomas Vu Dinh Hieu of Bui Chu presided over the celebrations during which 12 nuns took their first profession, 11 took the perpetual profession of vows, 12 marked the silver anniversaries of their profession and two commemorated their golden anniversaries.
Sisters from other convents and relatives of the professed could not attend the event due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Bishop Hieu called on congregation members to express their deep thanks to God for their presence and development in the country’s oldest diocese where the seed of the Good News was sown nearly 500 years ago.
Sister Mary Theophane Venard Doan Thi Chuyen, head of Tu Trung convent, said the ceremony was a wonderful opportunity for sisters to look back on their trials and tribulations in difficult times and show their deep gratitude to their predecessors and elderly nuns.
She pointed to the dedication to the congregation by Sister Mary Stephania Pham Thi Vien, an elderly nun who marked her 60th anniversary of the profession at the event.
Sister Vien was among the congregation’s first sisters who took her first vows in 1954 when local Catholics faced religious persecution. She and others who lived in poor conditions got little religious formation, but set shining examples of how to doggedly pursue religious vocations, Sister Chuyen said.
Sister Chuyen said younger nuns like her endured horrible times following their vocations in the 1970s-1990s when security officers regularly broke into convents at night looking to arrest young women who were interested in religious life.Since the1990s, when religious suppression began to ease, many young women have joined the congregation and young nuns have been sent to study at colleges and universities, while, new communities have been set up across the country.
Many are now in charge of convents, training younger nuns and conducting charitable and social activities.
Sister Chuyen said the congregation was marking its anniversary by building a chapel at the motherhouse to replace an old small chapel in disrepair.
The 54-year-old nun, also a dentist, said they have also just opened a clinic named after the congregation’s founder Ho Ngoc Can.
It now offers hundreds of patients traditional and Western treatments including acupuncture, herbal medicines, screening tests and other services.
The congregation now has 500 members in 40 communities serving six dioceses in the country and one in Thailand.
The Daughters of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary was founded by the late Bishop Dominic Mary Ho Ngoc Can, the first native prelate of Bui Chu, in 1946, when northern Vietnam suffered a severe famine that killed some two million people.
Nearly 200 women from local convents joined the new congregation when it was founded.
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