01/04/2011, 00.00
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As the Jubilee Year ends, hope is born anew among Vietnamese Catholics

by J.B. Vu
Closing ceremonies for the Jubilee Year of the Vietnamese Church got underway today. The yearlong event marked 350 years since the arrival of Roman Catholicism in Vietnam and 50 years since the founding of the Catholic hierarchy. Today, the Church has almost 8 million members divided in 26 dioceses and 2,228 parishes served by some 2,900 priests, 1,500 men religious, 10,000 nuns, 1.500 seminarians and 40,000 catechists.

Hue (AsiaNews) – Closing ceremonies for the Jubilee of the Vietnamese Church began today at the La Vang National Marian shrine. The yearlong event began on 23 November 2009 (pictured) and will officially end on Thursday, 9 January, in the presence of the papal envoy, Card Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

Organised to mark the 350th anniversary of the founding of the country’s first two dioceses in Dang Trong and Dang Ngoai and the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Catholic hierarchy, the Jubilee finds a Catholic Church that has almost 8 million members divided in 26 dioceses and 2,228 parishes served by some 2,900 priests, 1,500 men religious, 10,000 nuns, 1.500 seminarians and 40,000 catechists.

The end of the Jubilee Year is a time of hope for love and holiness through all the efforts of Vietnamese Catholics. As Benedict XVI told us, “the works of the Good News that have been announced and started by missionaries amid many difficulties. However, the mission has also brought about rich results for our Church. The first fruits and flowers are Vietnam’s Martyr Saints, in particular Saint Dung Lac. Whilst we are happy to remember those who brought the faith to us, at the same time we want to renew and increase the number of postulants, full of enthusiastic for the promotion of missionary activity here. With Our Lady of La Vang on our side, we should go out to announce the Good News to everyone.”

John Paul II also mentioned La Vang on 11 November 1992. On that occasion, he said, that he felt “for the difficulties and sacrifices Vietnamese Catholics have made every day”. He added that he “would like to talk with parishioners, brothers and sisters,” to convince them that he was close to them in his “thinking, love and prayers.” Their loyalty to Jesus and the Church is an honour for the entire Church and a source of “great happiness for me,” the Pontiff said.

In praying for the crowds of pilgrims who came to La Vang, he urged everyone to pray for “the Mother of God,” who is the Mother of mankind, and “for the whole the Vietnamese nation” as well as its Christian communities at home and around the world. In urging everyone to place their trust in the Holy Virgin, Mother Mary, he said that Our Lady and her maternal love accompany us in our journey on this earth.

Many pilgrims, Catholic and non-Catholic, told AsiaNews “they are really happy to visit the Mother of La Vang. We believe that She will bless us and our families”.

“We must be happy,” members of Catholic social work groups from Ho Chi Minh City said. “Catholicism is religion of happiness and faith. We must express the joyful and confidence.”

The end of the Jubilee is truly the start of a new life of peace and hope for Vietnamese Catholics.

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