03/07/2019, 15.52
VIETNAM
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Catholics donate blood in Ho Chi Minh City for Lent

by Paul Nguyen Hung

In every parish of the archdiocese, Catholics prepare for Easter by participating in charitable initiatives. For nearly 30 years, Hà Nội parish has held a blood drive at Advent and Lent. Yet, donations remain a taboo in many quarters. In 2019, 330 people have donated blood in one ward, a local official noted. In Hà Nội parish, 142 people donated blood in one day.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – The Hà Nội parish, Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), organised again this year a blood donation drive as part of its preparations for Lent. The blood collection was held in conjunction with last Sunday Masses, attracting 142 people.

Across Ho Chi Minh City, Catholics usually prepare for Easter by participating in charity initiatives at their local church during the Lenten period.

In his pastoral letter for Lent, Mgr Joseph Đỗ Mạnh Hùng, apostolic administrator of the archdiocese, renewed his call "to receive the sacraments, especially those of penance and the Eucharist, as well as pray and carry out social and charitable activities in the churches."

In Hà Nội parish, which is in Gò Vấp District, the blood drive took place at the church compound. The event has been held every year for almost 30 years at Advent and Lent thanks to Fr Dominique Đinh Ngọc Lễ.

The clergyman’s pastoral outreach pays special attention to the marginalised and every month he provides them with support.

"When I participated in the blood donation for the first time, I was afraid! But at the second one, I was braver,” said Peter Phạm Nhật Thanh, head of the parish catechists. “Since then, every time I give blood, I feel better. This is why I often take part in this initiative, thanks to which it is possible to save people's lives."

Fr Joseph Nguyễn Ngọc Tuấn, a Passionist priest, is another donor at the Hà Nội church. "When I was in the seminary, I was in contact with people living in remote and isolated areas. I feel a lot of compassion for the ethnic minorities who endure misery and poverty. Tribal people need medical assistance too. Therefore, I want to give my blood to the poor."

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), voluntary unpaid blood donations are up in the countries of Southeast Asia. However, the practice still remains a taboo in many quarters. For this reason, initiative like that at Hà Nội parish is very important for the local population, both Catholics and non-Catholics.

Nguyễn Thị Bích Nương, chairman of the Red Cross of the People's Committee of the 13th Ward (Gò Vấp District) illustrates the extent of this success. "The Committee's data show that so far 330 Ward residents have donated blood in 2019.” On Sunday, “there were 142 donors in Hà Nội parish alone, plus 66 people who gave last week at the church in Nữ Vương Hòa Binh. This is a sign of hope."

 (Photo credit: Giáo Xứ Hà Nội).

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