07/30/2010, 00.00
VIETNAM
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A festival on mission and catechism in the diocese of Lang Son - Cao Bang

by J.B. Vu
The event involved more than 200 children of the parishes along the mountainous border with China. The meeting takes place every summer and is now in its 11th edition, despite the difficulties and restrictions of the government.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) – At the festival on catechism and the Bible over 200 children from the mountain communities of the diocese of Lang Son - Cao Bang (on the border with China), learn to listen to the word of God and live Christianity in everyday life. The event has great importance, because for years the ruling regime has prohibited the teaching of the catechism, forcing priests to teach in secret.

Organized July 27 to 28, the festival is now in its 11th edition. Each summer it involves children and catechists from all the parishes of the diocese.  Divided into groups they discuss the Church texts, simplified to facilitate the children’s understanding.

The festival is also an opportunity to encourage children to Christian mission and ends each year with "The Rite of departure for doing mission". This time the mass was celebrated by Mgr. Joseph Dan Duc Ngan, bishop of Lang Son - Cao Bang. "We came here - he said - to pray together and share the word of God each one helping with his spirit and his ability to build our diocese through catechism and Bible study to try to live according to the word of God". "Jesus – he continued - teaches us that we must bring His message to local churches and our communities. Then with joy and faith, build our communities starting especially from our families".

In recent decades, Vietnam is experiencing a gradual reduction of religious freedom, forcing Christians to secretly teach catechism. The main difficulties are registered in its mountainous regions populated by indigenous Montagnard Christians, who for years have been without catechists and priests. Despite these difficulties, the Church has not stopped in its mission. To date there are 26 dioceses in the country and over 10 thousand catechists, who are often sent to serve in remote parishes of the country.

Maria, a catechist active in various mountain parishes, tells: "I taught catechism for seven years. At the beginning we had many difficulties, we lacked the appropriate texts, we had to learn the dialects of ethnic minorities and were under the continuous control of local authorities. " "But– she continues - we still taught catechism to children, paying no attention to politics and remaining firm in our faith."  

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