Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) The Catholic community of An Thoi Dong this week celebrated the inauguration of its new Church, the parish of St John the Baptist. It has been described by Cardinal Jean Baptist Pham Minh Man as "the youngest community" in the diocese of Ho Chi Minh City. Sixty catechumens will be baptized here shortly.
Celebrations included solemn mass presided over by Cardinal Man and celebrated by the bishop of the diocese, Mgr Van Nghi, as well as a meeting for the whole community.
The new parish, which is Can Gio district, was born in 1993 thanks to the efforts of Fr Chan Tin of the Salvatorian Congregation: when it was set up, 12 people were baptized and now the community counts 483 members.
Nowadays, the main commitment of the parish, with its church compound measuring 500 square metres, is tending to children. Forty disabled youth are assisted by volunteers, who also care for poor or neglected people who seek help to meet their basic needs there.
One of the people who attended mass for the inauguration of the new structure, told AsiaNews: "The bishop of the diocese, Mgr Nicholas Huynh Van Nghi encourages and supports missionary and parish work: he was the one who gave money to buy the land. Cardinal Man was also of great help, visiting us and counselling us about the acquisition of land and construction of the church."
He added: "It should also be said that many lay people were involved to reach the goal: this is a sign that the faithful of Ho Chi Minh City have changed their mentality about religious freedom, which they desire even more than before."
At the end of the mass, the cardinal told the community: "I need your prayers as I need to return here often. If I am here now, I owe it to your prayers and for this I want to express my joy and gratitude today."
"The first reason for which to be grateful is that thanks to the love of Christ, we managed to give this church to the community of An Thoi Dong," he continued. "The second reason is listening to young people sing with pure heart, headed for a happy life. It is with these hearts that we must commit ourselves to giving and developing the Word of God."