As Vietnam celebrates New Year, Catholics mark the occasion among the poor in Thanh Hóa
In the Thanh Hóa diocese, parishes organise charitable and social initiatives. The local cathedral and Catholics in Ba Làng helped tribal people. Mỹ Điểm parish and the Legio Mariae joined forces to help seniors and disabled cope with loneliness.
Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Catholic priests and parishioners in the north-central Diocese of Thanh Hóa, Thanh Hóa province, heeded their bishop’s call to celebrate Tết (Lunar New Year) with the less fortunate – migrant workers, the poor and the disabled – who number in the tens of thousands.
Mgr Mgr Joseph Nguyễn Đức Cường, who took office as bishop on 27 June, paid special heed to the latter. Following his example, all the parishes in the diocese organised charity works to serve the needy during the traditional festivity, which involves the whole country.
On the invitation of Fr Joseph Phạm Văn Định, vicar in Ngọc Đỉnh parish, Mgr Cường celebrated for street vendors Mass on New Year’s Eve. The church has 2,076 members, 90 per cent of whom are involved in this line of work.
After the service, the bishop handed out "lucky money" to seniors and thanked Hoàng Hà municipal authorities (Hoằng Hóa district) for their participation.
Ethnic H'mong living in Mường Lát district have benefited from the solidarity offered by Ba Làng parish.
The vicar, Fr Joseph Trịnh Văn Phiên, and 30 members of local Catholic associations led a plan to "Bring Tết to the minorities of the mountains", in Pa Púa, a village, near Trung Lý.
"We prepared 300 gifts for tribal H'mong," one parishioner in Ba Làng told AsiaNews. "It was not easy to reach the village to deliver them, but giving is more important. It was a grace from God to be able to know, talk about and share the difficulties of everyday life. The joy of reaching out erased all tiredness."
The Cecilia Choir, which sings at Thanh Hóa Cathedral, also played an important role in "Tết with the poor" initiative.
Singers and musicians went to Vui and Cốc, two remote mountain villages near Thanh Xuân and Hồi Xuân (Quan Hóa district), home to tribal Kinh, Mường and Thái people. The choir brought gifts for 60 families, and performed joyful songs and music.
In Hậu Lộc district, Mỹ Điểm parish and Legio Mariae got together to help seniors and the disabled, mostly non-Catholics, to cope with loneliness.
Accompanied by Fr Joseph Phạm Văn Nhân, volunteers and donors visited people, bringing gifts and spiritual support.
"Fr Nhân and Catholic associations helped the poor for the holidays, handing out rice to the people worse off,” said Đinh Thị Khuyên, a woman in Lam Thượng, a village in Thuần Lộc municipality.
Moved by the gesture, she said, “Thanks to this, our life is less hard. Above all, we feel that many people still love and care about us."