08/02/2017, 15.00
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Projects by Saigon seminarians for the diocese’s ‘social peripheries’

by Paul N. Hung

St Joseph Major Seminary presented its summer pastoral programme. Thirty-nine seminarians launched 11 small social projects based on the needs of parish communities. For Denis Phạm Bùi Vượng, in charge of pastoral outreach, the plan “includes study and fieldwork to help seminarians work with” marginalised groups.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – The students of St Joseph Major Seminary in Saigon are engaged in a number of pastoral initiatives and activities for the summer that will bring them into contact with some of the neediest parishes and social groups.

AsiaNews interviewed some of those involved in the Summer Pastoral Project 2017 and describes their initiatives to address the problems that local Catholic communities have to deal with.

"To promote the pastoral and evangelical work of each local Church, the governing board and the professors at St Joseph Major Seminary launched the pastoral summer programme,” said Fr Denis Phạm Bùi Vượng, who is in charge of pastoral outreach at the seminary.

The plan “includes study and fieldwork to help seminarians work with poorer and more difficult communities and parishes. This way, they can serve the people abandoned by society."

"We attended short training course to help seminarians know and practice the spirit of Caritas in charities, social activities and peripheral areas,” some professors Caritas Saigon said.

Seminarians “are the future pastors, and need to understand how to work for parish communities. Priests help parishioners live in communion and love. If they are able to manage charitable and social activities, they will be able to build God's projects of mercy for people who live in particular circumstances, whether Catholic or not."

"With the help of the board and the social units, 39 seminarians launched 11 small social projects in parish communities,” said Sister Anne, who is charge of the pastoral training course. “The initiatives are intended to serve specific target groups like children, the poor, the elderly, the sick, etc. who live in particular and difficult circumstances."

"Phú Trung parish, in the diocese of Saigon, has 500 children who do not have a decent playground,” said Peter Hoàng Phương Huynh and JB. Nguyễn Trọng Tín. “They are likely to be drawn into bad groups and succumb to violent games.”

“This led to the project ‘Making conditions for children playing sport in the church’s campus of Phú Trung parish’. Thus, we can help children learn how to play and work with each other. The Church belongs to all who live in the community. Parents are sensitised to take care and educate their children and carry out positive activities and avoid bad ones."

Đắc, Phước, Phong and Vũ are involved with Tam Hải parish. "Many young people are preparing to go to university. However, many still do not know what direction to take in their studies, so we launched a small project, 'Career counselling for Tam Hải High School Students'. Students are supported and helped, even by their families, to choose a path suited to their abilities and the needs of society. "

"Công Thành parish, Thủ Thiêm district, has about 2,500 parishioners,” said Joseph Nguyễn Thuận Hải, Joseph Nguyện Ngọc Duy, Paul Phùng Thiện and Francis Xavier Phan Minh Thuận. “Most of them are labourers and lead a stable life.”

“Through a quick survey, we learnt that the parish has 90 seniors over 70, including ten people who are in very difficult circumstances. So we worked with the local Caritas to take care of their physical and spiritual health. "

"In the past, seminarians were not trained for charity works and methods in parish communities. Today they learn the skills they need and are able to develop a 'small social project',” said St Joseph Major Seminary director Fr Joseph Bùi Công Trác.

“Through training they are given a method to work and respond more effectively to the needs of their community."

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