Vietnamese Bishops Appeal for Catechesis Aid

Affirm Nation’s Strong Faith, Many Vocations

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KOENIGSTEIN, Germany, JULY 15, 2009 ( Vietnamese bishops are affirming the strong faith and the high number of vocations among their Catholic countrymen, but are appealing for help in several church needs such as catechesis.

The prelates stated this in a visit to the Aid to the Church in Need headquarters in Koenigstein, the agency reported today.

The group of six bishops visited Germany Thursday while returning from their five-yearly visit to the Pope in Rome.

From different regions in Vietnam, each one gave a different perspective on the needs in their country.

Bishop Pierre Nguyên Van Nhon of Da Lat underlined the need for church buildings in his country.

The prelate, also chairman of the bishops’ conference, noted that not every parish has its own building, which is a central need for pastoral and spiritual work.

Bishop Paul Bui Van Doc of My Tho, the chairman of the conference’s faith commission, highlighted the work of evangelization as a priority.

He suggested that religious sisters be given motor scooters so that they could mobilize and travel to visit lay people in their area.

Evangelization was also stressed by Bishop Joseph Dang Duc Ngan of the diocese of Lang Son et Cao Bang, who underlined the need for solid formation for priests, religious and laity.

Successful catechesis

The 82-year-old bishop of Vinh, Bishop Paul Marie Cao Dinh Thuyen, explained that his diocese works with some 6,000 volunteer catechists, who brought the number of Catholic faithful to over 500,000.

These catechists, he reported, were trained in their villages by visiting priests and religious.

The importance of evangelizing through the families was affirmed by Bishop Thomas Nguyen Van Tan of Vinh Long.

He encouraged strengthening families and urging parents to bring their children to Mass and catechism classes.

The prelate pointed out that young people are being most severely affected by societal changes, and thus need solid foundations.

He added that many youth migrate from village to town for employment, and thus are in danger of «losing their roots» and «inner stability.»

This viewpoint was supported by the bishop of Bac Ninh, Bishop Cosme Hoang Van Dat, who spoke about his diocese’s pastoral work with children.

Now, he said, children are happy to tell their friends and families about the life of Jesus.

The aid agency reported that Vietnam, under communist rule, is one of their priority countries in Southeastern Asia.

The country has some 6 million Catholics in a total population of over 86 million.

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