07/02/2018, 16.02
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For Thanh Hóa’s new bishop, 'evangelization is the essence of the Church'

by Thanh Thuy

Tens of thousands of faithful and hundreds of priests took part in Mgr Joseph Nguyễn Đức Cường’s episcopal nomination. " Put out into deep water" (Lk 5:4) is his motto. The bishop succeeds Mgr Joseph Nguyễn Chí Linh, bishop of the diocese since 2004 and archbishop of Huế since 2016.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - Evangelisation is "the essence of the Church, a duty for every believer," said Mgr Giuse (Joseph) Nguyễn Đức Cường (pictured), new bishop of the diocese of Thanh Hóa, capital of homonymous province.

On 25 April, Pope Francis called him to replace Mgr Giuse (Joseph) Nguyễn Chí Linh, bishop of Thanh Hóa since 2004 and archbishop of Huế since 2016. To underline his determination to preach the Gospel, Mgr Cường chose “Put out into deep water" (Lk 5:4) as his motto.

On the day of his appointment, all the churches of his diocese rang the bells for three minutes in thanksgiving. Across the province, Catholics poured into the churches to pray and sing praises.

On 27 June, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Vietnam led the episcopal ordination of the new prelate in Thanh Hóa cathedral, filled by tens of thousands of faithful and hundreds of priests.

In addition to the bishops of the country’s 26 dioceses, representatives of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs and non-Catholic leaders were also present at the solemn service.

“A new chapter in the history of the diocese opens,” said Archbishop Linh during the Mass. This is the start of “a phase of constant development together with the pastor God chose for the people of God. The communion of Thanh Hóa with God’s love it is stronger."

Mgr Cường stressed the importance of catechism. Speaking to Catholic media, he noted that “secularisation is causing many difficulties to the faith of Catholics, especially to young people and to the work of evangelisation. In this context, pastoral care and catechism play a very important role.”

"In fact, if our object of faith is Jesus, the Saviour, catechism is one of the perfect means to help us recognise His trust and be intimate with Him. If preaching the Gospel is to proclaim Jesus Christ to others, the doctrine is a form of both Christian education and missionary training."

"The Diocese of Thánh Hóa represents 'the deep water’ where God sent me. Our brothers and sisters are poor, sick and abandoned. God sent me to everyone, not for myself. At the same time, Jesus reminds me that to obtain good results I must be close to him, working with priests, religious and laity when the Gospel is proclaimed,” the prelate said.

Founded in 1932 and suffragan of Hà Nội, the Diocese of Thanh Hóa in northern Vietnam covers an area of some ​​11,700 km² and is one of the poorest parts of the country.

It is home to about 149,000 Catholics, 3 per cent of the approximately 3.5 million local residents, divided into 72 parishes with 134 priests, nine deacons, 128 seminarians, two men religious and 307 women religious.

The Church also runs an educational establishment and three charitable institutions. Last year, the Catholic community celebrated more than 3,000 baptisms.

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