Catholics Express Gratitude To Late Cardinal Thuan And Ancestors On All Souls´ Day

2008-11-20 18:53:04
Paul Nguyen Tan Tam wiped the sweat from his face with a handkerchief after he offered white flowers and incense in front of the tomb of Pierre Martine Ngo Dinh Kha, grandfather of the late Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan.
Fifty Catholics from Phu Cam Cathedral parish visit the tomb of Pierre Martine Ngo Dinh Kha.
"On All Souls´ Day we visit the tomb, Cardinal Thuan´s family house and the tomb of Martyr (Saint) Paul Tong Viet Buong to express our deep gratitude to them," Tam, a lay leader of Phu Cam Cathedral Parish, told UCA News. He said Father Antoine Duong Quynh, pastor of the parish, led 50 local Catholics to visit the sites after they celebrated All Souls´ Day Mass at the cathedral on Nov. 2. Kha´s tomb, featuring royal architecture and a 10-meter-high tower, stands on a 10,000-square-meter hill that rises about 500 meters from the cathedral in the ancient city of Hue, 660 kilometers south of Ha Noi. Many local people have planted vegetables, kept livestock and poultry and built their houses around the tomb in recent years. According to Tam, an alumnus of Quoc Hoc (national studies) School, which Kha established in Hue in 1896 and served as its first principal, the school produced many famous leaders including communists. The school is now a state-run high school for academically talented students. "Catholics here are grateful and respectful to Kha, whose children and grandchildren also made great contributions to the local Church," Tam noted. vt_hue_1.gifSister Marie Magdalene Truong Thi Ly, Kha´s granddaughter, told UCA News her grandfather was a great mandarin of the last Vietnamese Nguyen Dynasty. Kha (1850-1925) had six sons and three daughters. One of his sons was Archbishop Pierre Martine Ngo Dinh Thuc of Hue, who died in 1984 in the United States. Jean Baptiste Ngo Dinh Diem, another son, was president of South Vietnam when he and a third son, Jacob Ngo Dinh Nhu, were assassinated on Nov. 2, 1963, the Lovers of the Holy Cross of Hue nun added. Sister Ly also noted that one of Kha´s daughters was Elizabeth Ngo Dinh Thi Hiep, mother of Cardinal Thuan. The cardinal was president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace when he died in Rome in 2002. Sister Ly, 83, who uses a wheelchair, said she asks people to carry her to visit and offer incense at her grandfather´s tomb every Nov. 2, because other relatives fled the country after the assassination or were killed. Cathedral parishioner Margaret Nguyen Thi Hoa, 65, said local Catholics pray for Kha and his family, fellow parishioners. Archbishop Thuc started construction of the present cathedral in 1963, she noted. Father Quynh, 59, told visitors at Kha´s tomb that this family brought great honor to the local Church through Cardinal Thuan.
Sister Marie Magdalene Truong Thi Ly, 83, a relative of the late Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, holds a picture of her relatives in her room on Nov. 2, 2008.
Born in 1928, Cardinal Thuan served as bishop of Nha Trang from 1967 until April 23, 1975, when he was named coadjutor archbishop of Sai Gon (now Ho Chi Minh City) archdiocese. Communist authorities rejected his appointment and imprisoned him for 13 years, nine of them in solitary confinement. He was released in 1988 and allowed to travel overseas in 1991. While abroad, he was barred from returning. When he was alive, "Cardinal Thuan wished to return to his native land to visit his compatriots and tombs of his ancestors," Father Quynh recalled. The priest said the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace ceremonially launched the cause for the cardinal´s sainthood in 2007. Cardinal Thuan served as president of the council from 1998 until his death from cancer in 2002 at age 74. The exiled prelate presented his family house to the archdiocese after he was named cardinal in 2001. The house is home to seminary candidates, according to Matthew Nguyen Dinh Luc, head of the parish council. After Kha´s tomb, Father Quynh and parishioners visited the home, including the chapel the cardinal´s parents built for him to pray in when he visited after becoming a bishop. They also visited the tomb of Saint Buong, first head of the Phu Cam parish council, who was beheaded in 1833 and canonized in 1988. END
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