“I have been living in Vinh-Long since September 1, 1953,” the bishop wrote. “At that time, next to the old Cathedral there was a school, a convent and a chapel belonging to the Sisters of St Paul Congregation. Now all has been reduced to a vacant piece of land. I ask the government to reconsider the decision to demolish the convent and the chapel in order to build a public square on the property where the convent used to be.”
In another letter to the authorities, Sister Huynh Thi Bich Ngoc, superior of the displaced nuns, described how things now stand. It was written following a decision by the local people’s Committee (City Hall) on 12 December to turn their home, first into a luxury hotel, then into a public square.
“The Congregation of Saint Paul was invited to a discussion to exchange ideas, but there was neither exchange, nor discussion,” she said in reference to the letter that invited the sisters to attend the People’s Committee meeting.
“Nguyen Van Dau, chairman of the People’s Committee, simply announced the latter’s decision to turn the monastery into a public square,” she said.
“Journalists from state media, like Vinh Long Newsmagazine editor in chief, as well as provincial radio and TV stations were there. They taped the event, and despite the fact that all the nuns present got up to strongly protest, state-run media reported that the nuns were happy for the decision and that their presence was proof of that.”