Vinh Catholic students to rediscover the essence of Christianity in today's life
by Thanh Thuy

The Catholic Students’ Association celebrated the end of the school year. After Mass, Father Giuse Trần Công Hường, head of the Association, solemnly performed the ritual of going out to carry out the mission (Nghi thức sai đi) for 121 graduates.


Hanoi (AsiaNews) – The Vinh Catholic Students' Association was founded in 1986. Over the past 34 years, it has become a second home for students living away from home, and has offered students an opportunity to interact, meet and help each other.

Since it was created, the Association has been divided into 15 smaller groups, including Group E, Bến Thủy Group, Cửa Nam, Pedagogy College Group, Dominican Savior, Economics Group, Technology Group, Luke Group, Francis ASSISI, Peter Canisio, Therese, Trung Đô Group, Trường Thi, and the Fatima Group.

Earlier this year, people in Vinh had to keep social distancing for six weeks to prevent the coronavirus pandemic. Catholic students pray every day. And in Nghệ An and other provinces, they are following their own university or college programme.

At 8.30 am on 20 June, the Association solemnly celebrated the feast day of Saint Anselm in the church of Đồng Yên, Yên Đại parish, an held a ceremony to mark the end of the 2019-2020 school year.

Father Giuse (Joseph) Trần Công Hường, who is responsible for Catholic students in the Diocese of Vinh, led the service, accompanied by Father Phaolô (Paul) Nguyễn Văn Khai, who teaches at St Francis Xavier Major Seminary; Father Anton (Anthony) Trần Văn Niên, vicar of La Nham parish; as well as the Fathers of of the Society of Jesus, the Fathers of the Vincent Congregation, and the missionaries of the Apostles Saints. They celebrated Mass together with Catholic students from the Diocese of Vinh.

Before the Mass, Father Giuse Hường gave out prizes and certificates to individual students and groups who achieved exceptional results in the Docat Catechism competition on the theme ‘Study with Jesus in 2020’.

The theme of the 2019-2020 school year was ‘Strengthening the faith of young people’. Teaching and learning the catechism helps students learn about Christianity and understand the social teachings of the Church.

“You are students and also Christians,” said Father Phaolô Nguyễn Văn Khai in his homily. “What are you looking for? Saint Anselm teaches us to seek knowledge of God. So, with understanding, we have the opportunity to see the love of Jesus and the providence of God for us.”

“Do not look far but be righteous in our life and that of those around us. I know you. You are about to graduate. Each one of you will wonder how they will find a job? Someone might think: ‘I have to make money no matter what.’ Remember that we must first seek the Kingdom of God, and he will add other things later.”

Parents, bishops and priests all want Catholic students in the diocese to become useful people for society and the Church. Father Phaolô Nguyễn Văn Khai prayed for the students, that they may become generous people, love others, and be really close to the poor.

After Holy Mass, Father Giuse Trần Công Hường, solemnly performed the ritual of going out to carry out the mission (Nghi thức sai đi) for the 121 graduates. The graduates read their promise earnestly and deeply. This was a poignant moment, the climax of an unforgettable time in the students’ life, saying goodbye to their universities to join real life.

Retired Bishop Phaolô (Paul) Maria Cao Đình Thuyên (93), a priest for 60 years, was full of joy in meeting young students in the spirit of a true father. For him, the meeting was the work of God’s providence and inspired by the Holy Spirit.

In particular, the prelate noted that the vitality of the Church and society depends on younger generations. For this reason, Catholic students are called to live and proclaim the Gospel of God in their daily lives.

Giuse (Joseph) Trhnh Xuân Giáo, president of the Association of Catholic Entrepreneurs in the Diocese of Vinh, talked about the valuable experiences he accumulated during his career, which can provide students in Vinh a new vision. They can apply what they studied harmoniously, between theory and practice, in their parishes and communities.

Bishop Anphong (Alphonse) Nguyễn Hữu Long (pictured) received a new mission in the Diocese of Vinh on 12 February 2019. After three months, on 5 May 2019, he met and spoke with 300 Catholic students from the diocese in the church of Đồng Yên, Yên Đại parish.

“Dear brothers and sisters,” he said, “we live in the heart of society with hundreds of thousands of challenges. In today's world, young people face many challenges. [Yet] Youth is the age of dynamism and many passions.

“Young people are more receptive to new things, but they also face many obstacles in life, the virtual world, fame, etc. In this society, even young Catholics are easily affected by bad things.

“Indeed, sometimes because of our selfishness and greed, we forget God’s presence, forgetting brothers and sisters next to us. To discern and choose actions in each situation, young people are called to put everything in the perspective of faith, aware of our Christian vocation.”

“Even though we know that the pleasures out there are just vanity, we still erroneously think we can decide everything. We hurry to find material satisfaction, willing to ignore 'moral values' so that we can achieve our ambitions.”

In light of this, Bishop Anphong Nguyễn Hữu Long wants Catholic students in Vinh to “be aware that God is always watching and that he stands by our side. We trust him. Hence, Catholic students can keep the essence of being Catholic in today's life.”

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