Huè (Agenzia Fides) - The lay Catholics of Vietnam want to contribute to the worldwide synodal process and their commitment is essential, especially in reaching out to those who, after baptism, have distanced themselves from the active life of faith. This emerges from a first report by the Vietnamese dioceses on the meetings, reflection and discussion carried out in recent months. An event organized by the Episcopal Conference at the Marian Shrine of La Vang in the diocese of Huè was also dedicated to deepening the mission of the laity in the Church. 520 representatives of the laity from the various dioceses took part.
The participants dealt primarily with the following topics: "The laity and their apostolic works", "The laity and the proclamation of the Gospel in the communities", "The laity and the mission ad gentes".
Those present agreed that "all members of the People of God, priests, religious and lay people, are called to respect each other's personal vocation, to share, to listen to one another and to discern together". The goal is to "participate united in the proclamation of the Gospel, each in his or her own situation", collaborating in the pastoral service of the community, with special attention to the poor, young people and families. "Lay Catholics in Vietnam", concluded the conference, "are called to contribute to missionary initiatives and the proclamation of the Gospel through dialogue, nurturing of spiritual life and closeness to families through their daily witness of faith in ordinary life".
During the exchange, those present also had the opportunity to express doubts and concerns about their experiences in the various local Churches. Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh of Hue said: "Today we have here the picture of a dynamic Church. It opens a new opportunity for the faith life of the Church in Vietnam, which requires the awareness of the laity to actively collaborate and participate in the mission of the Church, since this is not only reserved for the clergy or religious orders". The Archbishop in particular emphasized "the community spirit of the lay faithful who want to be 'living stones' in the Church in solidarity and brotherhood". In particular, referring to the life of parishes, he remarked that "the collaboration between clergy and laity is aimed at the good of the People of God, in responding to the destre and needs of the people in the communities".
Emmanuel Nguyen Hong Son, Bishop of the diocese of Ba Ria, also wanted to dwell on issues related to the apostolate of the laity, especially in noting that today, in the life of Christian communities we are witnessing a "haemorrhage" of the baptized who, for various and diversified reasons, of a cultural and social character, move away from sacramental life and community participation. In Vietnam, where ecclesial life is usually characterized by the strong roots of the baptized in the communities, this is a particularly painful phenomenon that raises questions: "The Holy Spirit", said the Bishop - is the One who, like a tongue of fire , brings the assembly of apostles out of their gathering and sends them out into the world. Let us listen to the Holy Spirit to be enlightened in the work of re-evangelization of our communities: let us begin first with ourselves, to let him transform us; in this way we will pass on to others what we have learned. Let us ask God for the grace to lead us back to him and to put his word into practice".
In conclusion, Bishop Joseph Tran Van Toan of Long Xuyen, in his capacity as chairman of the Episcopal Commission for Laity, further analyzed the phenomenon of those turning away from the practice of the faith: "The main reason for those turning away from God is
that they do not feel loved and do not perceive or recognize the love of Christ that the Church is called to spread and bear witness to". In parishes it is important that the lay faithful maintain contact with them, visit them and ask the grace of the Holy Spirit for them. We ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten us so that, through our presence, the heart of the person visited can be touched by God. When we meet or visit a person who has distanced themselves from faith, let’s show love and let us pray for him/her, remaining gentle and humble and living the faith ourselves first, to foster a personal encounter with Christ". The way to revive faith, he said, passes through the sacraments, such as Confirmation, Eucharist and Confession, because "only through reconciliation with God is it possible to attain peace and happiness of the heart".
Msgr. Joseph Tran Van Toan also emphasized the importance of formation of the faith for the laity, which "must not be limited to the path of receiving the Sacraments: catechesis means forming oneself in the faith, deepening it, praying, to adore and to live, and it is always necessary". The goal of every catechesis is to "put God back at the center of life: to recognize and accept God, the Absolute, who guides every step of our existence".
Finally, the Bishop thanked the more than 50,000 catechists throughout Vietnam who proclaim the gospel in the country's Catholic communities and accompany the life of faith of children, young people, adults and families. (PA/DH) (Agenzia Fides, 19/10/2022)