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Vietnam's Catholics urged to strengthen Church communion

Faithful asked to regularly attend services and support those in need to foster spiritual life in the new liturgical year

Catholics attend a special Mass to mark the construction of a new church in Tea Hna parish in Kontum diocese on Nov. 23

Catholics attend a special Mass to mark the construction of a new church in Tea Hna parish in Kontum diocese on Nov. 23. (Photo: giaophankontum.com)

Published: December 05, 2022 06:39 AM GMT

Updated: December 05, 2022 07:05 AM GMT

Catholics in many Vietnamese dioceses have been asked to regularly attend services and provide emotional and material support for people in need as a way to foster their spiritual life and evangelization in the new liturgical year.

Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Nang of Ho Chi Minh City said people learned from the Covid-19 pandemic that many victims died from a lack of oxygen, not a lack of money or food. No one can see oxygen and the unseen gas is the most essential to life but is not cared about.

"This experience of the physical life helps us be convinced that it is God, whom we cannot see and easily forget, who is the Almighty and can save and make us alive," Archbishop Nang said.

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“You should strengthen communion with God by fostering your inner life, studying and praying with his word, and attending Masses and Eucharist adoration,” he said in his Advent message.

The head of Vietnam’s bishops warned Catholics not to let money and possessions draw them away from God, the source of true happiness, while they work hard to have a better life.

They should continue to tend to people with disabilities, patients and domestic migrant workers, and also not forget couples who have marriage problems, elderly people, orphans and the abandoned. 

Bishop Louis Nguyen Anh Tuan, apostolic administrator of Ha Tinh diocese, urged people to pray to expect the coming of God by avoiding physical pleasures, lavish lifestyles and drinking.

Bishop Tuan suggested Catholic families live the spirit of communion in the new liturgical year by saying prayers at home on the same weekday and at the same time in their parishes. Relatives who live away from home can also join them via the internet.

He also called on local priests, religious and laypeople to spend a moment's holy silence during Mass so that the Holy Spirit animates the entire celebration and shapes participants’ hearts.

Bishop Stephanus Tri Buu Thien of Can Tho in the southern Mekong Delta asked Catholic families to build up a life of communion this Advent and in 2023 by reflecting the Word of God at home two to three times a week and actively attending Advent retreats, Masses and Eucharist adoration.

Bishop Thien said they should “enlarge the place of their tents” by making generous donations to support students in difficult situations, offer gifts to old people without relatives, disabled people and those who have accidents so that they could celebrate Christmas. They should also visit, listen to and comfort families who have marital difficulties, abandon faith practice and live far from home.

He said they should also invite followers of other faiths to attend Christmas celebrations at local churches as a way to introduce Catholicism to them.

Archbishop Nang said evangelization is a noble act of charity since they offer Jesus to their brothers and sisters through their daily prayers and witnesses.

Noting the archdiocese could not set up mission stations on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City for the past three years due to the pandemic, he called on people to make generous donations to its evangelization funds over Advent and Christmas to help build Church facilities.

Bishop Aloisisus Nguyen Hung Vi of Kontum in the Central highlands said 2022 had seen some ethnic-dominated parishes complete or start construction of new churches and chapels. It is good news for ethnic villagers who live in poverty to have proper places to worship God.

Noting that many other parishes with ethnic communities in remote areas could not afford to build churches and chapels, Bishop Vi asked those who have jobs to annually offer a day’s pay to assist parishes in building basic facilities. Few people made donations to the diocese of some 150,000 ethnic Catholics over the last couple of years due to the pandemic.

On Nov. 23, Bishop Vi presided at a special Mass to start the construction of a new church in Tea Hna parish, which was founded in 2018 and has some 8,000 Sedang ethnic people, in Kon Tum province.

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