Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - "Although we live in a repressive society, our incessant prayers to Our Lady" is a source of comfort. "The greater the physical and spiritual persecution, the greater is our faith in God and the Virgin." With such spirit, as witnessed in the testimony of one of the faithful, Vietnamese Catholics took part in the Mass in Ho Chi Minh City's cathedral that brought to a close the Year of Faith last Saturday.
Mgr Paul Bui Van Doc, the new bishop coadjutor of Saigon, led the function along with Card Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, the non-resident Pontifical representative Mgr Leopoldo Girelli, the diocese's Auxiliary Bishop Mgr Pierre Nguyen Van Kham, Long Xuyen Bishop Mgr Joseph Tran Xuan Tieu and Vinh Bishop Mgr Paul Nguyen Thai Hop.
At least 5,000 people attended the Mass, which also provided an opportunity for the new coadjutor bishop to be officially presented to the Christian community.
By participating in the service, Vietnamese Catholics sought to 'thank' Pope Francis for the grace given to the local church with the appointment of new bishops.
Many also the event as an opportunity to emphasise "the face and spirit of Benedict XVI and Francis" who are always "in the hearts of Vietnamese Catholics."
A special thought was also addressed to Card Pham Minh Man, a true and genuine witness of Christ and the Church even at this difficult moment in his life due to illness.
Over the years, his action has produced thousands of catechists and led more than 22,000 people to baptism.
Before the service in Notre-Dame Cathedral, the cardinal, archbishops, bishops, priests and faithful prayed before the statue of Our Lady of Peace in Hoa Binh Square, in central Ho Chi Minh City.
Archbishop Girelli delivered a special thanks from Pope Francis to all those present, with a special thought for the cardinal whose 'red hat' is a living and unbroken symbol of 'sacrifice'.
As a deep and courageous witness of faith in Vietnam, the cardinal has met in his lifetime the Blessed John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Francis, receiving commendations and praises from everyone.
Lastly, everyone was urged to "continue praying for the bishop coadjutor" to whom is entrusted the future of the Archdiocese of Saigon.