07/24/2006, 00.00
VIETNAM

In southern Vietnam Church increasingly present among troubled youth

JB. VU
Volunteers and street counsellors work among kids abandoned by their families, trying to survive in a materialist society.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – Although Catholics still suffer discrimination in Communist Vietnam, the Church's pastoral activities have grown by leaps and bounds thanks to the work of laymen and women, especially among the young. They provide a moral compass to those who live separate from their families.

In Vietnam's Communist society, Catholics must be steadfast in their faith. Recently in the southern part of the country, a Young People Conference was held in Phan Thiet that brought together thousands of young people.  A Congress for the Family in Saigon Archdiocese also saw some 5,000 people come together. Both events are symptomatic of the laity's fervour and care for the Church.

In Can Tho diocese some 50 street counsellors operate among street kids. Similarly, in the town of Cao Lanh 25 Catholic volunteers work with troubled children. And in most of these cases, the kids come from broken homes, surviving shining shoes, selling lottery tickets or performing manual tasks for local store owners, not to mention those who wait at bus stops to relieve passengers of their wallets.

The children and kids are deprived of love. They bear the burden of the "world" all alone, without parents worrying about them. Most end up falling into a life of dissolution.

"In this day and age, fathers are absent and mothers work," some of the volunteers told AsiaNews. "The family unit is weak. everyone lives in their own little world. Young people are like islands stranded in their own thoughts and emotions. But our pastoral and social work is bringing the Word of God to them. We can help them to be free from the temptations of a materialist society."

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