Updated: June 04, 2021 05:19 AM GMT
Caritas workers provide emergency relief to a quarantined village in Bac Ninh. (Photo: giaophanbacninh.org)
Seminarians from a northern Vietnamese diocese that is home to a Covid-19 epicenter have been urged to strengthen their spiritual life and work with others to look after pandemic victims during their holidays.
Major seminary students returned to their homes and parishes in Bac Ninh Diocese after they finished the academic year at St. Joseph major seminaries in Hanoi Archdiocese and Xuan Loc Diocese late May. The nine-month school year ended in May.
This year's new coronavirus outbreak prevented them from meeting and sharing their study achievements with Bishop Cosme Hoang Van Dat at the bishop's house in Bac Ninh City as normal.
In his letter to the seminarians, Bishop Dat encouraged the future priests to enhance their spiritual life and do charity work during their three-month summer holiday. They should try to steer clear of pandemic infection and become grown up in preparation for future priesthood to serve God's people according to Christ's example.
He noted the two provinces of Bac Giang and Bac Ninh, which are under the diocese's administration, are worst affected by the fourth Covid wave with 3,561 confirmed infections out of a total of 4,877 cases in 37 cities and provinces across the country since the first cases were detected on April 27.
"We should actively work with government authorities and other people to contain the pandemic. We must protect ourselves, our families, our friends, our parishes and all people from infection, and pray to God to end the pandemic soon," Bishop Dat said.
Bishop Dat called on seminarians to act as intermediaries between benefactors and Caritas
The Jesuit prelate said they should be at the service of Covid-19 victims as much as they are for other Catholics. Mater Unitatis sisters in Bac Giang allow the government to use their daycare center as a quarantine center and volunteer to provide health care and food for patients and people who lack food.
Father Paul Trong stays at the nuns' motherhouse, celebrating daily Masses and helping them to provide basic supplies to people in need. Caritas workers offer face masks, disinfectants, food and clean water to people at quarantine centers and isolated places.
Bishop Dat called on seminarians to act as intermediaries between benefactors and Caritas, and between Caritas and people in need.
The septuagenarian bishop said that this year nine students have graduated from the two major seminaries, a record number of graduates in the 138-year-old diocese in recent decades. They will be assigned to local parishes to practice pastoral work in September before their priestly ordinations next year.
He also warned that this year there were fewer seminary candidates for the first year of the priestly formation. The diocese offers pre-seminary formation to 23 young men who are interested in priestly vocation.
He called on local people to set good examples in faith practice and pray for more young vocations to follow the priesthood and to meet the local Church's evangelization and religious needs.
Bishop Dat said he plans to ordain eight deacons aged 31-51 — four of them from the local Mother of the Redeemer Congregation — at the cathedral without their families’ attendance due to pandemic measures. The priestly ordination will take place on the evening of June 11, the feast of the Sacred Heart, and be aired on the diocese's social media so that all people can follow.
The bishop said the newly ordained priests will celebrate their first Mass at the cathedral the following day. They could celebrate their thanksgiving Masses at their home parishes when the situation allows.
He hopes that the pandemic will be controlled soon so that all people including seminaries and congregations can return to their normal lives and build a world of justice, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.