A priest is evangelizing in remote mountainous areas with few churches by offering pastoral care to people in their homes.
“To evangelize effectively, priests have to reach out to people and offer them what they need,” Father Michael Nguyen Tien Quang, pastor of Mong Son parish in Luc Yen district of Yen Bai province, said.
On October 18, Fr Quang traveled 50 km by motorbike along hilly roads to visit Catholics in Sao village. There he baptized four adults, heard confessions from those who had not had the opportunity to go to confession for years, held rites for patients and celebrated Mass attended by 50 people in a local family’s home.
Noting there is only one church in the district, the 38-year-old priest said he has to reach out to local Catholics, offering religious rites and teaching catechism in their houses.
He said he also sends nuns and seminarians to work in local Catholic communities for one or two weeks a year.
Sister Trinh, who has just finished a week’s work in Sao village with 15 Catholic families, said she taught them how to make the sign of the cross, recite the rosary, confess and sing hymns, and offered catechism to catechumens. Local people there have had no priest in years.
The Lovers of the Holy Cross nun said local people offered her accommodation and food. “They were very happy to receive me in their homes,” she added.
Joseph Bui Van Dung, a villager, said Fr Quang has celebrated Mass at his house three times.
Dung, 41, said he moved to the area in 1985, married a non-Catholic and did not practice his faith until last year, when Fr Quang visited his family and blessed their marriage and baptized their two children.
He said local people have to notify the local government when Fr Quang or nuns visit them.
Fr Quang, who started serving the parish in 2006, said over the past five years around 100 marriages have been blessed, some 100 adults baptized, and hundreds who had stopped practicing their faith for years returned to the Church. He also offers scholarships to students from poor families.
He and local Catholics have also bought a 1,000-meter-square plot of land and plan to build a church in the future.
Fr Quang was ordained a priest in 2005 and serves some 5,000 Catholics among a total population of around 100,000.