ASIA NEWS REPORT: by Trung Tin
The country's 26 dioceses organise events that include songs, poetry readings, traditional dancing and floral offerings to Mary. Former students at Don Bosco schools organise small groups to pray and read the Bible.
Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - The Marian month, an important time of the year in Vietnam, is being marked by prayers of peace for families, Vietnamese society and the Church in China.
For the Marian month, Vietnam's 26 dioceses have organised ceremonies that include songs, poetry readings, traditional dances and flower offerings for Mary. In the Diocese of Saigon, at least 198 parishes have organised poetry readings and floral offerings (Dâng Hoa in Vietnamese) with the participation of children and young people.
The Catholic Church in Vietnam has also responded to Pope Benedict XVI's appeal to pray for the Church in China during the month of May. On 18 May 2007, the pontiff said, "all Catholics throughout the world have a duty to pray for the Church in China."
In Ho Chi Minh City, about 500 former students from Don Bosco schools organised prayers and Bible readings.
The celebrations also include taking a statue of Our Lady of Help for Christians from home to home, where it stays for one or two days, allowing residents to pray to her on behalf of Catholic families and for peace in today's Vietnamese society.
Prayers groups also come together, drawing members such as doctors, business people, teachers, public servants and workers.
"Our Lady is a 'bridge' that united us," Joseph Đỗ Văn Đức, a supervisor in a Japanese company, told AsiaNews. "By praying together we can create communion and help each other more".
"We organise floral offerings, read the rosary and pray to the Virgin in the month of May," members of the Thanh Đa Parish. "The Virgin Mother will certainly not forget our families. May she bless us and give our country peace."
Every month, some 10,000 Vietnamese, including some non-Catholics, take part in pilgrimages to Our Lady of Tapao, Phan Thiết diocese. However, Our Lady of La Vang draws even more pilgrims in need of help and support.
"I found myself facing many difficulties," said Teresa, from Thánh Linh Parish. "I face discrimination and lack of respect in the office where I work. Sometimes, I have endured harassment, but I keep my faith."
"Every day," she explained, "I go to the Redemptorists to pray to the Mother of Perpetual Help and feel peace in my heart. I have seen many non-Catholics come to pray with their families and children. The walls are full of ex-voto thanksgiving messages Mary."