03/31/2021, 17.18
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Catholics build a centre for flood victims in Hà Tĩnh

by Paul Nguyen Hung

Retiring Bishop Paul Nguyễn Thái Hợp celebrated the start of the work and the laying of the foundation stone. In October, devastating flooding caused fatalities and extensive damage to the area. Local authorities granted the land free of charge. The building can also be used as a youth or educational centre.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) – The construction of a large community house for flood victims (Nhà Vượt Lũ Cộng Đồng) began a few days ago under the watchful eye of Mgr Phaolô (Paul) Nguyễn Thái Hợp, the bishop of Hà Tĩnh (northern Vietnam) who retired a few days earlier.

The area was hit by devastating floods last October, with fatalities and extensive damage to local infrastructures.

On 13 March, the bishop celebrated the Mass that officially started the work in Tiên Nghĩa, a community in Liên Hòa parish, Hòa Ninh district.

The Nguồn Nậy River, one of the main tributaries of the Gianh River, flows through the region. During the rainy season, life becomes a nightmare for residents, due to the fury of the waters.

The local Catholic community numbers around a thousand, mostly living off fishing, farming and animal husbandry along the waterways, in one of the poorest parts of the Diocese of Hà Tĩnh.

Catholic groups, organisations and volunteers from the diocese provided help during the October floods, as did the bishop and Caritas Vietnam.

During the work, it became clear that some brick structure, elevated and solid enough to withstand frequent flooding was needed.

In his last weeks in office, Bishop Nguyễn Thái Hợp, aware of the needs of the residents, undertook a project with Caritas to build a community house in Tiên Nghĩa, an initiative backed by the Quèng Tiên municipality and the People’s Committee of Ba Đồn.

The authorities granted the land for free for the community house, where people can go in case of floods. When the weather is dry, and danger of flooding is remote, the building can be used as a classroom, for catechism, or as a youth centre for Tiên Xuân residents.

Many Catholics worked on the project for free to help build the centre, and show their gratitude to Bishop Nguyễn Thái Hợp who retired on 19 March for age limits.

In the last few days he led several farewell Masses in many parishes of the diocese, as well as the solemn Eucharistic concelebration of 25 March, on the Feast of the Annunciation.

This highlighted the bond with the community and the commitment to work with the local clergy on the path of the mission.

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