ucanews.com reporter, Ho Chi Minh CityUpdated: July 22, 2016 10:39 AM GMT
Father John Le Quang Viet with participants updating information on WYD celebrations at his parish house in Vietnam. (Photo by Mary Nguyen)
Catholic youths from communist Vietnam attending the World Youth Day (WYD) celebrations in Poland hope the event will enthuse them to work harder for the local church.
"I will share my service with other youths as a witness. In a communist country with various faiths, young Catholics try hard to live out our faith," said Teresa Ho Que Tram, who conducts a choir in church.
Tram, 32, who has attended the WYD three times, said the gatherings help promote her enthusiasm for serving the church.
"I learned from the faith experience of other people and I promised to live out my faith by doing something useful for the church," she said.
"I am very proud of being Catholic in Vietnam," said Tram, who along with seven other people will leave for Poland on July 23 to attend the world gathering.
She said 30 young Catholics from Vietnam are already been in Poland to serve as volunteers. They are working at airports, bus and train stations to show other representatives ways to the venues and accommodations and offer them food.
While attending the WYD celebrations, Vietnamese representatives plan to have a meeting with Vietnamese youths from other countries on July 27.
Mary Nguyen Thi Bich Nhung, a 25-year-old accountant, said she is eagerly awaiting to attend the world's biggest gathering of Catholic youths, for the first time. "I am very happy to also meet the pope in person there and learn ways of living faith from other youths."
Martine Tran Huu Thien, a delegate, said he and his friends created a Facebook page to post latest information on the WYD so as to encourage other youths to attend the international event.
"We wish the WYD will be held in Vietnam one day so that people can visit and understand the local church," said Thien, who will attend the gathering for the second time.
Bishop Joseph Vu Van Thien of Hai Phong, head of the Episcopal Commission for Youths of the Vietnamese Catholic bishops' conference will lead the delegation which includes over priests, religious and young Catholics, Father John Le Quang Viet, secretary of the commission said.
"We could not count the exact number of the members because they have to pay their own costs by themselves," Father Viet, head of Mac Ti Nho parish in Ho Chi Minh City, told ucanews.com.
People in small groups have been flying to Poland where they will team up with one another to join some 2.5 million people around the world to attend the gathering.
Many have booked air tickets months in advance of the gathering so that they could avail of cheap tickets. On average, the trip costs US$2,000 per person.
"Attending the WYD means making a pilgrimage where young Catholics around the world live in communion with one another," the priest who has attended the WYD four times said. "The international event helps strengthen their Catholic faith experience."
Father Viet said the local church has promoted the theme "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy," and have discussed challenges facing youth in showing mercy to others and ways of being witness to their faith life.
"The meeting is also an opportunity for priests and religious to understand youths' thoughts and concerns and make plans to journey with them in life," he said.
Father Viet said Vietnamese delegation will visit the house of St. Pope John Paul II, who initiated the WYD in 1985, and Glogowiec, home village of Polish Saint Maria Faustina who initiated the Divine Mercy devotion.
The Vietnamese delegation will return home on August 2.
Held in a different place every three years, the World Youth Day is a week-long festival to celebrate faith through songs, dances, prayers, and sharing of experiences.