» 10/20/2009 12:11 VIETNAM In 2008, 30 thousand Montagnards became Catholics by Thanh Thuy The figure emerged during the celebration of World Mission Day. In Vietnam, this year, the celebration is intertwined with preparations for the Jubilee of 350 years of the Church in the country and 60th anniversary of the institution of the Episcopal Conference. And the Redemptorists mark 40 years of their mission in the highlands.
Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – Last year 30 thousand Vietnamese from the Central Highlands (Montagnards) were baptized and 20 thousand others are preparing to become Catholics. The data was emphasized by the Bishop of Kontum, Michael Hoang Duc Oanh, at the World Mission Day. “It is the work of the Holy Spirit – he tells AsiaNews - with the sincere participation and contribution of so many people".
Since 1926, Pope Pius XI urged all churches to encourage missionary activity. Benedict XVI, in his message for the Day, reiterated that mission is the fundamental task of the Church. "I remind all Churches, old and young, that God called them to be the 'salt of the earth' and 'light of the world'. I urge them to proclaim the Good News of Jesus to everyone everywhere in the world. You must consider the mission to non-Catholics as the primary pastoral commitment".
This has a particular value now in Vietnam, where the Church is preparing to celebrate its Jubilee for over 350 years of mission (1659-2009) and the 50th anniversary (1960-2010) of the creation of the Conference of Bishops. Recently, at the second annual meeting of bishops in the diocese of Xuan Loc, in a pastoral letter the bishops wrote that "the Jubilee of 2010 is an opportunity to render all Vietnamese participants in the joy of faith. To achieve this, we need the faith and cooperation of all members of the Church".
In this period the Redemptorists are also celebrating 40 years of their mission in the highlands. They have been present there since 1969. A celebration was held last Sunday at the missionary Centre of the Diocese of Kontum Pleikly. 5 thousand of faithful were present drawn from five missionaries centres, mostly ethnic J'rai and Banari (see photo). The mass was celebrated by Bishop Michael Hoang Duc Oanh, partly in Vietnamese and partly in the J'rai language.