Hanoi (AsiaNews) – The building that has been home to the Congregation of Saint Paul in Hanoi is at risk(pictured). It houses, among other things, a shelter for young women, a home for orphans and disabled children, a dispensary for the poor. Now authorities say they want to build a hospital on the premises. A seemingly irrational choice an done on which the capital’s Archbishop and Justice and peace commission has yet to pronounce themselves, to defend the religious sisters right to continue their mission and contribute to the development of the country.
Founded in 1883, the Vietnamese Congregation of Sisters of Saint Paul has its headquarters in Hanoi, No. 37 Hai Bà Trưng Street, Tràng Tiền Ward, Hoàn Kiếm District.
Since then, and even during the war, the sisters have always carried out pastoral activities, health and social services for the population of Hanoi and contributed to nation building. Even the place where their house is situated is linked to the tradition of protecting and defending the homeland. The name of the street, Hai Bà Trưng, is that of two women who defied the invasion of the feudal Chinese regime in the district, Hoan Kiem, indicating the return to God's magic sword with which the Emperor Le Loi (Traditional Vietnamese hero) defeated aggressors and prevented the expansion of the Ming Dynasty.
At the time of its inception, the congregation had 200 nuns who devoted themselves to pastoral and social activities for the poor, scattered throughout the north. In 1954, most of the nuns fled to Da Nang and Saigon. 11 remained as witnesses, of whom 10 have died, while one, 100 years old, is still living. "At that time - remembers Sister T. - The situation in the north was very not easy. The people lived in great difficulties, war and bombings, life and death everywhere. The property of the congregation was largely confiscated by the communist government. It was only a very small portion. "
Fortunately, after 1986, the period of reforms, the sisters had the hope of rebuilding their congregation. To do this, on March 1, 2010, 92 nuns were sent to Hanoi. The sisters created charitable structures, such as a shelter for young women in difficult situations, a home for orphaned and disabled children, a pre-school section and more. They offered "charity bowls of soup" to many poor patients in the Vietnam Cuba Hospital and Germany Vietnam Hospital, sectors 1 and 2 of the hospital for cancer and maintain a free dispensary for the poor. And they also carry out missionary work in the north.