Tuesday, 15 July 2003

Rome (Fides Service) – It will be the first meeting for overseas Vietnamese Catholics of the new millennium and it will help “continue along the spiritual path started in the Holy Year in response to the Pope’s call , Duc in Altum. We want to thank God for all the graces received in three decades of life overseas, coming together in the unity and joy of the Gospel”, Father Joseph Dinh Duc Dao told Fides Service. Father Dinh Duc Dao is co-ordinator of the Office for the Apostolate of Overseas Vietnamese Catholics set up by the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. Some 3,000 Vietnamese Catholics, clergy religious and laity have registered for the meeting scheduled 24-27 July at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome.
Preparation for the event began 12 months ago with three main activities: spiritual promotion and sensitisation in families; statues of Our Lady of La Vang (6 copies of the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary venerated at Vietnam’s national Marian shrine) carried in pilgrimage to all the different national communities overseas in Asia, Australia, Europe and America. The year of preparation and the imminent meeting will serve to draft a pastoral plan for the diaspora keeping in mind indications given by the Pope and the local Churches.
The meeting will open on 24 July with a solemn celebration of Mass presided by Archbishop Philip Edward Wilson of Adelaide, Australia where there is a large community of Vietnamese origin. In the evening of the same day there will be a prayer vigil.
On the 25 the participants will reflect on the theme: “The path of witnessing the faith in the past and prospects of faith for the future” and then they will celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. On July 26, after a private audience with Pope John Paul II the participants will engage in in-depth refection in discussion groups for different categories: clergy, religious laity and youth. This will be followed by mass presided by Bishop Paul Nguyen Van Hoa of Nha Trang, who is president of the Bishops’ Conference. The four day Meeting will close with a mass presided by Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples on 27 July; about fifty priest are expected to concelebrate.
The Vietnamese diaspora started at the end of the war between Vietnam and the United States in 1973. The third major political group in South Vietnam, composed mainly of Catholics and Buddhists, was persecuted by the Communist Party which took power and hundreds of thousands of political refugees fled, finding asylum in Oceania, Europe and America. PA (Fides Service 15/7/2003 EM lines 40 Words: 484)