Study, faith and mission: youth congress in Vinh
by Thanh Thuy

The diocese covers three provinces in central Vietnam. Earlier this month, 2,000 participants met in preparation for the congress in Hanoi (16-17 November). Testimonials and seminars centred on the topic: ‘Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch’ (Lk 5: 4). For the bishop, "the role of students is increasingly decisive” for society and for the Church. Youth should act as missionaries.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) – About 2,000 young Vietnamese met in early October for the second Youth Congress in preparation of the national meeting organised by the Archdiocese of Hanoi for 16-17 November.

Participants, who came from eight parishes in Bột Đà district (Vinh diocese), spent a few days of work, prayer and discussion on the them: ‘Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch’ (Lk 5: 4).

The congress began with a general meeting, with young people sharing experiences and problems of Christian life in their parishes.

Later, some priests held seminars on issues that affect pastoral outreach. Fr Peter Nguyễn Ngọc Giao spoke about the "mission after the Second Vatican Council", whilst Fr Paul Pham Trong Phương reflected upon "Young people and life in society according to the Good News."

The congress coincided with the start of the academic year in colleges and universities. The Catholic Student Association in the diocese of Vinh organised an opening event for the school year. Mgr Paul Mary Cao Dinh Thuyen, bishop emeritus of Vinh, celebrated a Mass for young people in his diocese.

"I am in the second year of studies in social work,” said Hung, a student at the University of Labour and Social Affairs in Cầu Giay (Hanoi).

“I go to Mass every Sunday and take part in some young Catholic groups in life protection programmes (Vietnam has one of the highest abortion rates in Southeast Asia). By learning from God’s Mercy, we want to help each other study and encourage each other in everyday life."

Mgr Paul Nguyễn Thái Hop, bishop of Vinh, stresses the importance of such community events involving young Catholics, because "society is facing many problems, such as dishonesty, cheating and misconduct in academia. For this reason, the role of students is increasingly decisive."

“Your task,” he told congress participants, " is to 'build yourself', your families, and in so doing, build the country and the Church. As believers, you need to participate in the Church’s mission because God is with us forever.”

The diocese of Vinh covers three provinces in central Vietnam: Nghệ An, Hà Tĩnh and Quảng Bình. Catholics number 526,145 or 10 per cent of the population with young people accounting for 56 per cent of the total.