ASIAVIETNAM - From Evangelii Gaudium to the experience of “mission stations” in Ho Chi Minh Ville

Tuesday, 19 September 2023 evangelization   missionaries   missionary animation  

Qui Nguyen su Unsplash

Ho Chi Minh Ville (Agenzia Fides) - "Evangelii Gaudium is a fundamental document for the universal Church and it is also a fundamental document for the Church in Vietnam. It was soon translated into Vietnamese, then shared, read, meditated in our communities. From this reading, the Holy Spirit gave birth to a beautiful missionary experience for our local Church in Ho Chi Minh Ville: we launched small “missionary stations” scattered throughout the territory, in peripheral places and neighborhoods or the most abandoned, to make our closeness felt with people, especially the poorest": this is what Mgr. Joseph Bui Cong Trac, auxiliary bishop of Ho Chi Minh Ville told Fides, discussing how Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium - whose tenth anniversary of publication falls on November 24, 2023 - represented a spark for "missionary conversion" of the Church local.
"In the mission stations there are priests, religious men and women and lay people who bear witness to the love of Christ, speak to people, pray, listen to their needs and respond to them with works of charity", he reports. "Of course, in this initiative we had to patiently find an agreement with the civil authorities, because in Vietnam we can celebrate liturgies in our places of worship, and not outside. But, thanks to dialogue, the obstacles have been overcome and this experience continues, with much good fruit. Members of our Christian communities engage in acts of charity, particularly for the benefit of uneducated children or elderly people in need of care. People, especially poor, understand that in these free gestures there is the message of love of Jesus. And we have recorded, in mission places, adults who ask to become Christians and begin a journey of baptism", he notes.
The Bishop recalls: "This experience of 'evangelical presence' reminded me of the beginnings of my vocation to the priesthood, born in my youth, thanks to the example of a priest who devoted all his time, his energy, his life to the people: Don Francesco Saverio of the parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Thanks to his testimony of free self-giving, the Lord made the vocation to become a priest germinate in my heart. However, the seminaries were closed in the 1980s (by order of the communist government), I had to wait almost ten years and it was only in 1993 that I entered the Seminary, always with the permission of the government which, at the time, had to authorize entry. I remember how Father Francis Xavier cared for me and I thank God for his patient and compassionate presence at my side. It is in this spirit that I live my service as bishop and I would like every priest, religious or lay person to live it towards their neighbor". The missionary experience in the diocese, reports Monsignor Joseph Bui Cong Trac, has also made it possible to strengthen unity between the components of the Catholic community, which has more than 700,000 faithful: "Strengthened by this momentum, we experienced the preparation of the Synod as a precious time to discuss and walk together. Our local Church has a composite face: 350 diocesan priests and 650 religious priests; more than 3,500 religious men and more than 4,000 religious sisters, as well as numerous catechists, in 220 parishes.
We lived the period preceding the Synod with authentic and sincere collaboration and participation, where everyone made their contribution, where everyone felt precious, as they are in the eyes of God. This Synod, he concludes, has already borne fruit for us as an experience of mutual listening and unity in our local Church". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 19/9/2023)