From drinking water to catechism: ferment of social and pastoral activities for migrants
by JB. VU
In Ho Chi Minh City there are almost over 2 million immigrants; for them the parishes are the main source of support which the government fails to provide, in order to face the problems of big cities.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - Ho Chi Minh City – ancient Saigon – has around 8 million inhabitants: of these at least 2 million are migrants.  The phenomenon of internal migration in Vietnam is on the increase: people are drawn to Ho Chi Minh City for different reasons and are from different religious backgrounds, but with the same common aim; to earn a living.


Father Tam, Parish Priest of Mau Tam Parish, told Asianews that, “Every Sunday I say Mass for 300 emigrants. The parish also organize social and pastoral activities  for these emigrants and their children. It is moved to see them participate into every Sunday’s Holy Mass zealously. Their children are baptized and received the sacraments. All these activities have helped them get spiritual and moral direction for their living. Around our parish there are many social ills. The local authority is helpless to deal with the problems. But  the pastoral committee of the parish and me have carried out the activities since 2005”.


Father Dong, Parish Priest of  Phu Lam Parish where Cardinal Sepe of Vatican  visited in 2006, also told Asianews that “It is happy to see these emigrants take drinking water from a well with equipped with  a pump of the parish. They are emigrants and different religions. The total of the parish’s  parishioners are 7,000 persons.  Beside there are 3,000 emigrants. We  have class of  marriage catechism for more than 500 young people so that every day they come here to learn catechism, sharing living experiences. We just received a project of vocational training for  young people from German Catholic  Church. So  we will build up vocational training courses to meet the needs for the parish’s young people and emigrants”.


Vu Kieu My, social worker, lay person of  Mau Tam Parish, revealed  “When father Tam has come to the parish and worked with people, I see  renovation for the parish. It is not easy in Vietnam. But now we have  pastoral and social activities for young people, children and the elderly. Our family has been living here since 1954 with 2,550 parishioners.  I know many young people are being pushed into social ills and consumerism. However we have the parish’s associations and Catholic organizations have organized meetings, discussion, learning catechism, reading Bible and  praying in small groups together. Through the activities we are close with the church and God. It is proud to have 22 catechists who are willing work  voluntarily with young people, teaching catechism for emigrants’ children”.