For Vietnamese Catholics, seeing See Pope Francis in Philadelphia strengthened their faith
by Trung Tin
Thousands of Vietnamese Catholics took part in the closing Mass of the World Day of Families. Now they can “bring home the spirit of this World Day, to share with fellow parishioners” who could not come, certain that “our church has a place in the universal Church”.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – Đỗ Ngọc Dũng, a Catholic Vietnamese, told the Saigon Broadcasting Television Network, "I felt my faith grow stronger when I approached Pope Francis in Philadelphia” during the final Mass of the Eighth World Day of Families, held in Philadelphia on 22-27 September.

Mr Ngọc Dũng came to the United States as a member of an official delegation representing the Catholic Church in Vietnam. The group included Card Phêrô (Peter) Nguyen Van Nhon of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City Archbishop Bùi Văn Đọc, 16 priests and about a hundred faithful. Thousands of overseas Vietnamese, from the United States and elsewhere, also took part in the event.

Some of those who made the trip to the US took the opportunity to tell their personal experience to AsiaNews.

"I took part in the World Day for Families along with hundreds of Vietnamese priests as well as the final Mass,” said Fr Lê Quốc Thăng, president of the Commission of Justice and Peace in Ho Chi Minh City.

“Sister Mary Hồng Que’s reading in Vietnamese was very moving,” he noted because when he heard “Our language echoed in the prayers and songs, it made me think about the importance of the event and gave me the certainty that our church has a place in the universal Church.”

"I felt part of the communion of the Church,” Fr Thăng said, “and I shall bring home the spirit of this World Day to share with our parishioners in the Archdiocese of Saigon.”

“I shall share my experience by talking about the speeches and views I heard at the rally as well as describe my encounter with Pope Francis. Although I did not meet him in person, I saw his enthusiasm and humanity throughout the day."

"The place of the celebration was packed,” said Hoài Phạm, a Catholic woman, who took part in the Mass. “I attended the memorial prayers and listened to the Word of the Lord from the Holy Father’s lips. I am going on a pilgrimage to Rome next year to meet the Pope. I pray every day for this."

At the end of the final Mass, seven Vietnamese Catholics from Hanoi, dressed in traditional costume, met Pope Francis as representatives of the Church of their nation and continent Church, and received a copy of the Gospel of Saint Luke from his hands.

The Pope's trip to Cuba and the United States has had great resonance in Vietnam, in the Catholic community and beyond. A Buddhist journalist told AsiaNews, "Everyone recognises that, wherever the pope goes, millions of Catholics and non-Catholics feel his humanity, love and sincerity."