05/04/2006, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Dominican Sisters among the poor in a society drawn to consumerism

by Thanh Thao

The witness of 24 sisters in the diocese of Lang Son, who assist girl mothers and teenagers in a society ever more drawn to consumerism.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Young mothers, teenagers and poor families of all faiths in Vietnam can be sure of finding the support of the Dominican Sisters present in the country. In the diocese of Lang Son, there are 24 sisters in the congregation, and they are involved in pastoral and social activities, a commitment not without problems. AsiaNews interviewed some.

Sr Huong takes care of Hong, a student at the Education College of Hanoi who recently got pregnant. "Her relatives, state employees, and her boyfriend encouraged her to have an abortion," said the sister. "Without judging here, I encouraged her not to kill her child; we have saved many lives in this way." The sister underlined the challenges inherent in pastoral care in a society "so attracted to consumerism". "We educate and we raise poor and underprivileged children," she said. "But it is not easy to communicate certain values and when we seek collaboration with parents, the difficulties increase."

But the commitment of the Congregation of Dominican Sisters is also geared towards families with domestic problems. Sr Mai said: "I work with a poor family: the husband is Catholic, the wife Protestant and the children do not really know whom to follow. I am close to both parents and try to help them face the situation."

Sr Teresa said often the sisters received help, not least from "workers from other religions and denominations". She said: "Through social activities, we manage to reach knowledge of real life of the people we help."

The diocese of Lang Son was set up on 30 December 1913. It is northern Vietnam, on the border with China. The Dominican Congregation of Lang Son works in 16 communities spread across five dioceses: Ho Chi Minh City, Long Xuyeân, Da Lat, Xuan Loc and Lang Son.

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