Church works for families and migrants in Saigon
by Paul N. Hung

Catholics serve at "missionary points" in suburban areas. Separations, divorces and small family size are more and more frequent. For Mgr Joseph Nguyễn Năng, "life changes, but the 'true nature' of marriage does not."

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – Poor and socially marginalised migrant families can benefit from the Archdiocese of Saigon’s pastoral outreach work and that of its priests and believers.

As the city’s population grows rapidly, the local Catholic community is called to renew its efforts pastoral of care and development at the various missionary points in suburban areas where lay groups, youth associations and various Catholic organisations have operated for years.

Ho Chi Minh City (ex-Saigon) has about 14 million residents, 5.7 come from other provinces, including 300,000 Catholics from the north.

"They come to earn a living,” Sister Teresa, from Caritas Saigon, said speaking to AsiaNews. “Searching for a job, the education of children and religious practice are the greatest difficulties they face".

Between January and May, about a thousand Catholics from the diocese of Phát Diệm (Ninh Bình province) moved to Ho Chi Minh City for work, study or other reasons.

Mgr Giuse (Joseph) Nguyễn Năng, bishop of Phát Diệm, usually visits the migrants in the south each year. This year more than 20 priests from the diocese went along with him.

During the visit, the prelate shared with the faithful his thoughts about the condition of the family in modern times.

"As we all know, family life is going through a serious crisis, both in society and the Church,” the bishop said. Nowadays, “The Vietnamese have now a different vision of their life and customs. Materialism exerts a negative influence and families seem to lack joy and laughter. Separations, divorce and smaller families are more and more frequent.”

In light of this, every Catholic family ought "to pray to God every day", the prelate said, "calm down and distinguish right from wrong. When you are patient in prayer, you will find happiness. Life changes, but the 'true nature' of marriage does not”.

The Archdiocese of Saigon is particularly attentive to the fruits of marriage, i.e. children. "Youngsters are able to develop pastoral initiatives and activities if the appropriate conditions and programmes exist in the parishes,” said Fr Gioan (John) Lê Quang Việt, who is in charge of the youth ministry.

"In this social context, however, young people are often confused by the 'virtual world'. As a result, they are often victims of premarital sex, abortion and divorce."

"Young people need to be enlightened by four principles taken from the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church, namely the human person, the common good, solidarity and complementarity,” said the clergyman.

“These four values ​​of dignity will help young people pray diligently and take part in the Sacraments so that they can receive the graces of God.”