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  • » 02/07/2011, 00.00


    Mission among the Montagnards living in remote areas

    J.B. Vu

    Kontum diocese covers an area that is home to 2 million people and 40 ethnic minorities. Its initiatives include six new shelters for orphans and works run by Dominican nuns.

    Kontum (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Church and Catholic believers continue their daily work to bring “spring” and hope to people of every ethnic and religious background living in areas so remote that they are almost inaccessible. As Benedict XVI said in his message for the 45th World Day for Social Communications, missionaries must announce the Gospel to everyone with the “enthusiasm of the very first Christians” because “The Gospel is not an exclusive possession of those who have received it, but it is a gift to be shared”.

    The diocese of Kontum, in central Highlands of Vietnam, is an important case of missionary action at work. The territory covered by the diocese includes Gia Lai and Kontum provinces, and is home to some 40 ethnic minorities, known as ‘Montagnards’, about 2,000,000 people, mostly farmers.

    Catholics numbers about 300,000, or 14 per cent of the population. About 90 priests are serving in 70 parishes and 20 mission stations.

    Men religious, catechists and nuns have not stopped their work despite the practical difficulties of reaching remote areas.

    “In the last few years, young priests were sent to remote and distant areas such as Đăk Glei, Hà Mòn, Hà Tây, Đak Tô, Kon Rơnbang. Some sisters were sent to serve the poor and orphans,” said Father Son, a local priest.

    Dominican nuns have set up six shelters for orphans of different ethnic background, he noted. They are also in charge of a number of small social projects designed to help the thousands of poor, elderly, the sick and the unfortunate children who live in remote areas.

    “We work in remote mountainous areas. We bring material support to the poor and try to be their spiritual guides. We care for and love their children. The humanity and concern born out of faith are the “spice of life” that makes their life happier,” sister Loan told AsiaNews.

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    See also

    17/08/2017 17:22:00 VIETNAM
    Church against the pollution of Montagnard water resources in Kon Tum

    Unfettered industrial development and the lack of government enforcement of environmental protection threaten the existence of local tribal communities. "Many children have contracted scabies. Adults are pale," said the local diocese’s charity and social committee. Local authorities confirm that "about 80 per cent of the poor are affected by illnesses due to contaminated water." Local clergymen and nuns are very aware of the importance of environmental protection for the health of local communities. Water contamination is a growing problem in the region.

    30/05/2013 VIETNAM
    Vietnamese court convicts eight Montagnard as a "threat" to national unity
    Sentences range from three to 11 years in prison. Membership in a Catholic group "not recognised" by the state was an aggravating factor. For decades, Vietnam's Communist authorities have oppressed the minority. US activist says charges are a pretext to crush religious freedom and deny basic rights.

    06/04/2007 VIETNAM
    In the Montagnard region, Easter Mass is used to deny religious freedom
    With the pretext of authorising religious celebrations, authorities in the province of Kontum, where the Montagnard ethnic minority live, control and limit the rights of Catholics. State propaganda continues to describe the Church as a hostile force.

    13/02/2008 VIETNAM
    Montagnards denied the right to celebrate Mass for the start of the New Year
    Local People’s Committee chairman claims that since Tết is not a Catholic celebration Catholics have no right to celebrate Mass for this occasion. Police is ordered to arrest anyone who violates the ban.

    05/12/2006 VIETNAM
    Rights of Catholics better respected in Phan Thiêt
    The diocese fought to see its legal rights upheld.

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