Lang Son (AsiaNews) – Witnessing faith in Christ can also mean travelling 150 km to visit a family in a village lost among the Vietnamese mountains to bring comfort and the sacraments: Msgr. Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet, bishop of Lang Son, a diocese which comprises the provinces of Lang Son, Cao Bang e Ha Giang, last year frequently visited the villagers to Na Toong, and along with the Ky family – for over 70 years the only Catholics in the area – celebrated mass.
This example of faith struck many other families in the village, so much so that step by step they drew closer to the Christianity, fascinated by the love and relationship of friendship which bonded the Ky family to the bishop, appointed by John Paul II in 1999 to guide the diocese of Lang Son. Now the Catholic community has grown sustained by a journey of faith signed by the concrete work of the tireless work of Msgr. Quang Kiet and a group a group of Dominican nuns, who are in charge of a series of development projects in the area. Sister Diep tells AsiaNews that some of the sisters are “some sisters graduated on social work and community development in the Philippines. Some persons are studying in Viet Nam. After graduation they have come back their homeland to work. We also have some small projects to help disable children, issues involved into families and community. At the same time we have also organized compassionate classes for unlucky children”. Another example of the work of the religious in Vietnam from Sister Maria, who works with disadvantaged children: “Many people are willing to support the people in the Diocese. – She says - But we lack professional social workers, teachers and doctors to work here with people. Moreover the local authorities also lack knowledge and skills to understand the people’s need and religious activities. Sometimes they suspect our activities, their incomprehension impacts on people’s lives and their interaction at a social, familial and spiritual level”.
Lang Son diocese was born in the second half of the 1600, and comprises the vast mountainous area of the country closet o its borders with China it extends for 15 thousand km2; there are little over 6 thousand Catholics out of a total population of 1,153,000.
From the North of Vietnam arrives the news of the ordination of 50 deacons who received their spiritual formation in local seminaries: Junes 9th last in the square before the cathedral of Xuân Trong –Bui Chu diocese in Nam Dinh province – the local bishop, Msgr Joseph Hoang Van Tiên presided over the ordination of 50 deacons 45 of whom belong to the local diocese of Bac Ninh, Phat Diêm and a Dominican congregation. Some of the new priests are over 60, while the youngest is 31: they belong to a group of 83 “illegal” priests and seminarians who were educated in seminaries outside of government approval. The ordination of this group shows the improvement in relations between the Catholic Church and Hanoi, who showed no resistance to the ordinations. In Vietnam there are still some priests considered “illegal”, in short ordained but not recognised by the government: on all sides their is growing hope that relations will be fully normalised allowing Church freedom to carry out its mission.