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Peace in the land of the Catholic Church

More than 7 million parishioners (accounting for nearly 8% of the national population) of the Catholic Church in Vietnam who live in 4,500 parishes nationwide are making contributions to the development and prosperity of the country.

The peaceful life of parishioners now is the fruit from the sowing of  seeds for the growth of Catholicism in Vietnam for over 500 years. Vietnam Pictorial reports the peaceful and happy life of parishioners in the three archdioceses of Hanoi, Hue and Ho Chi Minh City. 

Hue, the land of love and happiness

More than 2,000 parishioners attending a Sunday service at Phu Cam cathedral in Thua Thien Hue province were happy to learn from priest Giuse Nguyen Huu Quoc Huy, associate pastor of Phu Cam cathedral, that the Archdiocese of Hue had successfully held the opening ceremony of Jubilee Year 2018, the biggest event after the 150th anniversary of the Diocese of Hue held in 2000.

In 1960, the Diocese of Hue was honored to be upgraded to an Archdiocese from an order issued by Pope John XXIII, the 261st Pope of the Catholic Church.   Hue became  the same rank as the archdioceses of Hanoi and Saigon.

Phu Cam is the cathedral under the Archdiocese of Hue, which covers Thua Thien Hue and Quang Tri provinces. Located on Phuoc Qua hill, Phu Cam is one of the biggest and oldest churches in Hue where some 6,000 laypeople regularly visit, especially on weekends.

 The chancel of Phu Cam cathedral, which can accommodate 2,500 people,
is almost fully occupied during Sunday services. Photo: Thanh Hoa

Summer activities for children at Phu Cam cathedral are diverse, covering from learning the dogmas of the church,
foreign languages and life skills to singing and dancing. Photo: Thanh Hoa 

The shrine of Our Lady of La Vang in Quang Tri province, another church under the Archdiocese of Hue, is not only the most important sanctuary for Vietnamese Catholic pilgrims but also a famous religious and historical site domestically and internationally. The well-known sanctuary has an impressively beautiful basilica of Vietnamese architectural style built in 2012, which can accommodate 5,000 people. Every year in mid-August, La Vang sanctuary receives hundreds of thousands of national and foreign laypeople and visitors who come to pray for Our Lady of La Vang’s blessings.

The peace and happiness that people under the Archdiocese of Hue have today are thanks to the love and unity in the Catholic Church and the community of local and overseas Vietnamese laypeople, as well as support from local administrations at all levels.

In June, Hue authorities facilitated and ensured security for the Archbishop of Hue to successfully open Jubilee Year 2018 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the canonization of 117 martyrs by Saint Pope John Paul II, which was attended by 2,000 religious dignitaries, priests and laypeople. The event was the most solemn and biggest ceremony after the 150th anniversary of Diocese of Hue in 2000.

Tay Linh parish is located in Thuan Loc ward within the inner city of Hue.
The parish was formed during the dynasty of Vo Vuong Nguyen Phuc Khoai and was originally called Cau Kho.
Photo: Thanh Hoa 

Acolytes offer candles on the altar before a service. Photo: Thanh Hoa

The choir of Tay Linh church sing hymns during a Sunday service. Photo: Thanh Hoa

Tay Linh parish under the Archdiocese of Hue has over 1,100 parishioners, who mostly live in Thuan Loc ward. 

Our Lady of La Vang is a Marian apparition in the figure of a Vietnamese lady holding
in her arms her child wearing a Vietnamese traditional costume.  Photo: Thanh Hoa 

 The basilica of the shrine of Our Lady of La Vang seen from the ancient bell tower. Photo: Thanh Hoa 

A relief of Vietnamese martyrs at the pilgrimage center of Our Lady of La Vang. Photo: Thanh Hoa 

Nuns meet at the shrine of Our Lady of La Vang. Photo: Thanh Hoa 

The Hue administration has also facilitated the Archbishop of Hue in splitting and establishing new parishes, including Son Thuy, Phong Son, Huong Phu, Chanh Xuan, Hoa Da, Buong Tam and Nhat Tay. For the last five years, the Archbishop of Hue has ordained 45 priests, appointed 60 parsons and transferred 70 priests to different parishes.

The local authorities have made major efforts to help the Archdiocese of Hue and laypeople take good care of their religious life. This shows the understanding and sharing between the local government and the Catholic community in building a good life for laypeople in the locality. It also proves that Hue is a land of love and happiness.

The Archdiocese of Hue is one of  three archdioceses of the Catholic Church in Vietnam. It has five dioceses, namely Ban Me Thuot, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Kon Tum and Quy Nhon. The Archdiocese covers Thua Thien Hue and Quang Tri provinces.

Summer class inside an ancient church
Visiting Phat Diem parish under the Archdiocese of Hanoi in Kim Son district, Ninh Binh, we had a chance to attend a summer class for children inside ancient Phat Diem cathedral.

The class is divided into three age-based groups. The senior group comprises children aged between 13 and 15; the teen group, between 10 and 12; and the young group, between 7 and 9.

A service held at Phat Diem cathedral. Photo: Tran Hieu

Christmas is held annually in Phat Diem cathedral. Photo: Tran Hieu

 Phat Diem diocese organizes a summer class for children to learn dogmas and play games. Photo: Tran Hieu 

 Catholic children in a candle parade on Christmas night. Photo: Tran Hieu 

The senior group includes key young people who have been taught by pastors, associate pastors and chaplains to help and guide children in the parish in summer activities.

The class is organized in a manner to ensure relaxation for learners who practice the skills of scouts and learn how to organize teams through games.

Pham Thi Thu, a senior group member, said, she learned a lot of organizing skills and knowledge about the Catholic Church, bibles and religion policies when attending the summer class taught by pastors. Thu said it was a good way for her to serve the Catholic Church.

Apart from studying the dogma of the church, the children have a chance to learn the history of Phat Diem cathedral and visit local historical and cultural relics such as Phat Diem tile-roof bridge and Nam Thanh theater.

“After each class, we sit under the eaves of the church, singing cheerful songs. The knowledge we gain from the class helps us feel more confident and become dynamic in life. This class makes our summer vacation days interesting and useful,” Thu said.

Suoi Rao, a peaceful and prosperous parish
With the living principle of “to be good both in life and religion,” parishioners in Suoi Rao parish in Ba Ria Vung Tau province, have successfully developed a farm economy to make money.

Visiting Suoi Rao parish in Suoi Rao commune, Chau Duc district, which is under the Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City, one can find the greenery of rubber, pepper and fruit trees grown in farms which intermingle with the forests and mountains. Suoi Rao parish has 780 people who make a living mainly from farming.

 A wedding ceremony at Suoi Rao church. Photo: Kim Phuong

 Young people join summer activities in Suoi Rao parish. Photo: Kim Phuong 

 The administration of Ba Ria Vung Tau province provides free medical check-ups
for lay people from Suoi Rao parish. Photo: Kim Phuong 

 Children at a summer camp held in Rao River parish. Photo: Kim Phuong 

We could see the well-off life of laypeople in this coastal parish when visiting the pig and goat farm of Nguyen Kieu Hung and Tran Thi Van.

“We have four hectares for growing rubber trees and raising fish so we earn a good living. Our son, Nguyen Van Ngoc, is studying at Xuan Vien seminary to serve our homeland and parish,” Van said happily.

Tran Duy Quang, another parishioner in Suoi Rao, also makes decent money from raising carp. From his current batch, Quang sold nearly 8 tons of carp, earning a profit of nearly 500 million dong (more than 21,000 US dollars).

“This model of fish farming has been expanded in Suoi Rao commune with 25 families raising fish in a total area of 35 hectares which supply around 700 tons of fish to the market”, said Pham Van Hinh, chairman of the communal Farmers Association. Fish farmers turn high profits this crop thanks to high yields and good prices, according to Hinh.

Apart from helping parishioners develop the economy, Suoi Rao parish also organizes learning and charity activities for students and helps poor people and those in difficult circumstances.


By Thanh Hoa, Tran Hieu & Dang Kim Phuong

Hue Preserves the Past and Looks Toward the Future

Hue Preserves the Past and Looks Toward the Future

Time and war took a heavy toll on heritage sites in the central province of Thua Thien Hue. However, the province has persistently risen to become an outstanding symbol of effective conservation of heritage sites and international cooperation, and is now making great efforts to become a centrally-run city with its own cultural "soft power".