ASIA NEWS REPORT; by Thanh Thuy
The country’s dioceses organise conferences and seminars for those who are following in the path of the Blessed Andrew of Phu Yen, “protomartyr of Vietnam”. July is a month dedicated to spreading the Word of God, bearing witness to one’s faith and trying to overcome the challenges of every day.
Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – In all of Vietnam’s 26 dioceses, July is a month dedicated to catechists. Conferences, seminars, forums, training courses and personal activities attract thousands of them, brought together by the memory of the Blessed Andrew of Phu Yen, “protomartyr of Vietnam”.
Born in 1624, Andrew was an assistant to a Jesuit missionary. He was arrested in 1644 and put death on 26 July of that year after he refused to give up his faith.
During his beatification ceremony on 5 March 2000, John Paul II said, “The words he repeated as he advanced on the path of martyrdom are the expression of what motivated his whole life: ‘Let us return love for love to our God, let us return life for life’.”
For this reason, late July has been dedicated to catechists who bear witness to the faith and try to overcome the challenges of every day.
In the Diocese of Đà Lat, all 185 catechists from the parishes in Bảo Lộc met on 14-15 July for a training course.
On 22- 23 July, the Diocese of Phan Thiết held a meeting at the Saint Nicolas Seminary. The heads and deputy chiefs from 80 catechism committees came together from all of the diocese’s parishes. All catechists were thus provided with an opportunity to celebrate the Blessed Andrew.
Speaking to the gathering, Bishop Joseph Vũ Duy Thống said, “Catechists have an important role in the development of catechism teaching and the communion with the Church. I have appreciated to your sacrifices in daily life. You have strived for co-operation with parishes, getting involved in Catholic faith education for children and young people”.
On 25 July, all 250 catechists from the parishes of Hải Phòng diocese met in a friendly atmosphere in the Bishop’s Residence to discuss training orientation and share their experiences in teaching the catechism.
During the meeting, Hải Phòng Bishop Joseph Vũ Văn Thiên said, “Teaching catechism is not a job, but a mission. We are invited to cooperate with the Church, which has entrusted us to go out to preach the good news, whilst bearing witness of our faith in our own lives.”
In Ban Mê Thuật diocese, some 900 catechists met in Long Điền parish on 25- 26 July to take part in a conference titled “Meeting – dialogue to do witness”.
“You are enthusiastic catechists,” Bishop Vincent Nguyễn Văn Bản told those present. In his address, he urged his audience to “continue this mission, because many people are in need of you.”
On 26-27 July, Lạng Sơn Diocese, which is located in a mountainous region, organised its 12th examination programme in catechism and Bible studies. The two-day event brought together adults who shared their experiences and 200 children, who were able to learn more about the faith. Hundreds of young people from 13 parishes were also given a chance to learn and take the exam.
In Ho Chi Minh City, the Archdiocese of Saigon organised a week (18-24 July) of activities centred on the theme ‘I choose Jesus’. Some 2,000 catechists took part in the event, which included seminars and assemblies.
Back from Rome, Mgr Borngia Francis Trần Văn Khả said, “Catechists realise that teaching the catechism is preaching the Word of God, and this brings happiness to other people. Let us not forget that our families are the first ‘environment’ in which we can teach the catechism.”
Card Jean Baptist Phạm Minh Mẫn also addressed the gathering. “I have learnt most about the theme of ‘I choose Jesus’ from the Holy Father John Paul II and from what he said about it,” the cardinal explained.
“We cannot see God, the prelate noted, “but God is the road we take to reach our destination. So, we are diligent to see Him and receive His Sacraments. We are diligent in expressing our belief in God and in our faithfulness to Him. This make everyone’s life more plentiful.”
“Lastly,” the prelate said, “I would like to say thanks to all my sisters and brothers who have taught catechism, and brought the Good News to the people of the city”.