12/12/2006, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Can Gio: Church at service of the poor

by JB. Vu
The district is one of the poorest of Ho Chi Minh City. Families living there do not even have drinking water. Thanks to the example of Catholic volunteers, 300 people from other religions have been baptized over time.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – Can Gio district is one of the poorest of the Vietnamese metropolis and fighting this poverty is one of the main objectives of the local Church. Many Catholics undertake voluntary work with families in the district where not even drinking water is available.

Mrs H belongs to the parish community development groups. She told AsiaNews: “To date, by working together, we have been able to build 250 small wells of drinking water, which are used by families in the area.”

The Can Gio parish priest said: “Social projects have been under way in the district for a long time. Sisters of the Congregation of Lovers of Holy Cross have been working here since the early eighties. Thanks to counselling and health services, we have helped many families in crisis with material and spiritual support.” Only yesterday, the group took action to help victims of Typhoon Durian that claimed a death toll of 100 people, including missing people, in the country.

The priest said such selfless work “has made the Catholic flock grow. Now the number of faithful from other religions has reached nearly 300.”

One volunteer said: “When we came to help the people, around 20% were Buddhist and others were animists, but most were atheists. Seeing our work, some have drawn close to Catholicism: now they come to Church on Sunday and are heading for baptism.”

The president of Commission for Pastoral and Social Activities of Ho Chi Minh City, Fr Joseph, said: “We have helped many families who were affected by the typhoon. However apart from undertaking works of charity, we devote a good amount of time to missionary activities in the poorest districts of the diocese. Life is very active here as we press ahead with our work that is based on the real needs of the people.”

It was here that the Church inaugurated a new parish dedicated to St John the Baptist in June, thanks to the efforts of Fr Chan Tin of the Congregation of the Salvatorians. Twelve people have been baptized since its dedication. The community has around 500 members.

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