Saigon (AsiaNews) – Vietnamese Catholics greatly appreciate Pope Francis’s spiritual love and attention for the poor.
Encouraged by the pontiff’s many appeals and calls, many of them take part in a number of initiatives to serve and work with the less fortunate.
Recently, the Vietnamese Church responded enthusiastically to the establishment of the World Day of the Poor by the pope.
On 19 November, the diocese of Saigon and Archbishop Phaolô (Paul) Bùi Văn Đọc organised a luncheon for some 600 people, including the needy, seniors, the sick, tribal people, poor children, be they Catholics or not.
For years, many of the diocese’s parishes have been serving the poor. Indeed, in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) Catholics are involved with the poor every day.
Each parish has adopted a flexible and creative social welfare plan with the help and support offered tailored to serve the specific needs of recipients.
In order to help poor students and migrants, Caritas Saigon on 11 September 2017 opened a grocery store in the parish of Minh Đức where lunch can cost as little as 5,000 đồng (US$ 0.22).
"It is a very useful initiative for those who are poor and live far from home,” said Trần Lệ Xuân, a student from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). “The volunteers, Catholics or others, clean the dishes and keep things hygienic.”
“When we come here for lunch, we see the love of the members of Caritas Saigon and understand how to live with each other," she added.
Several parishes, including those of Vinh Sơn, St Paul and Khiết Tâm, have been investing in "free water supply systems" for years, so that the poor can use clean water for drinking and cooking, thus avoiding intestinal diseases.
Other communities offer medical assistance – free medicines and treatment – to the needy and to seniors living alone.
Moreover, most of the parishes in the diocese of Saigon have raised funds and set up scholarships to finance the education of children who find themselves in very difficult circumstances.