Hanoi (Fides Service) – For 75 years the Sisters Lovers of the Cross, a local Vietnamese congregation of women religious, have served the poor, the excluded, lepers, terminally ill patients in central Vietnam in rural and mountainous areas, promoting the development of social services, education and health care.
In view of the 75th anniversary of their congregation approved by the Holy See in 1929, the Sisters are living a year of preparation “which we see as an opportunity to thank God for the graces we have received in all these years, to reflect on the failures and fruits of our work and to re-orient our service and activity to help the poorest of the poor”, said Superior General Sister Ana Le Thi Than huong.
It was Bishop Peter Nguyen Soan of Qui Nnhon diocese in central Vietnam where the Sisters work, who presided a special Mass to open the year of preparation for the anniversary which will fall in March 2004. To mark the occasion the Sisters hope to extend their service to north Vietnam, in the remote area of Binh Dinh where there are a number of parishes without priests and the extremely poor people are in dire need human, pastoral and social support.
Today the Congregation of the Sisters Lovers of the Cross has 286 professed Sisters, 30 novices, 20 postulants and more than 200 aspirant candidates. It also has a few communities in Europe and America. The Institute is experiencing a new Springtime after difficult times in the 1970s particularly when the Communists came to power in 1975. The Sisters were banned from running orphanages or schools. Forced to work in the fields, they taught catechism while sharing the daily fatigue of the people. “But the persecution brought the Sisters nearer to the people – said Bishop Peter Nguyen Soan - and it enabled them to strengthen their vocation and their spirituality of service to the poor”. Today the Sisters enjoy freedom unthinkable 25 years ago and are able to contribute to the human, social and cultural development of all Vietnamese. PA (Fides Service 28/7/2003 EM lines 30 Words: 353)