Parishes in the Mekong Delta are active with charitable initiatives and online catechesis. Bishop Tri Bửu Thiên wants to see “house churches” grow.
Cần Thơ (AsiaNews) – The Diocese of Cần Thơ is offering online catechism classes for children and adults to strengthen the Church communion and charity work even during the difficult times of COVID-19, this according to the local bishop, Mgr Stephanus Tri Bửu Thiên.
To this end, the prelate wrote a pastoral letter for Advent, sent out to the various communities within the diocese.
The diocese covers a large part of the Mekong Delta, namely the provinces of Hậu Giang, Sóc Trăng, Bạc Liêu, Cà Mau as well as the city of Cần Tho, and is home to 5.58 million people, including 191,000 Catholics (around 3.4 per cent) in 139 parishes and 19 mission areas.
Like the country as a whole, the region is still coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the latest national data, some 13,000 new coronavirus cases are reported every day, in practically every province. The Diocese of Cần Thơ itself has had about 300 deaths.
Against this background, the local Church is trying to keep pastoral activities going. “Parish catechism classes were suspended for a long time,” Bishop Stephanus Tri Bửu Thiên writes in his letter. Although “we still don't know when we will be able to reopen them; for the spiritual benefit of the people of God, I asked the Board of Catechism of the diocese to start online catechism classes.”
The initiative will involve parishes and mission sites. Priests, religious and lay people will organise four classes to prepare people for the first communion and confirmation.
Other classes will be available to adults undertaking their catechumenal journey as well as couples preparing for marriage, in which even non-Catholics can participate.
“Parishes are turning each family into a house church. It is absolutely necessary that every family practice a life of charity, reading the scriptures together and praying every day,” Bishop Tri Bửu Thiên said.
Priests and parishes are also promoting charity work and social activities to help the sick and families facing difficulties. They are also providing long-term support for students through the “study promotion fund” which offers scholarships to those who have to leave home to attend school.