02/03/2009, 00.00
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Salesians in Vietnam to serve the younger generations

by JB. VU
Starting in 1952 the Salesians spread across the country. Schools, shelters for streets kids, assistance to migrants and minorities from rural areas are part of what the Salesian Society does. Its focus is on young people so that they can “experience Christian life in society.”
Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – “I want to show that a street kid is not as bad as many think. I would like to rebuild by life for the future. I am happy that Father T. understands and sympathises with my family situation. I hope they [my parents] will stop quarrelling so that I can soon go back home,” said Hung, a 14 year-old boy staying at Ho Chi Minh City’s Salesian Centre, a place where abandoned children or children forced to live in the streets of the Vietnamese metropolis can find a shelter.

The Salesian Society founded by Don Bosco has centres across the country. The Feast of Saint John Bosco on 31 January was a time of celebrations that brought together people who have worked for or have been helped by the Salesians. In Ho Chi Minh City former students organise the event each year in the Binh An area.

A former student, Mr Hung, told AsiaNews that the Salesians are involved in many activities in Vietnam. “Many priests as well as Salesian brothers and sisters work with children, especially those in trouble. They help migrants and minorities from rural areas and take care of kids with drug problems or living with HIV/AIDS,” he said.

Faithful to their founder’s charisma, the Salesians are especially committed to the young. In addition to pastoral activities at the parish level Salesians run schools in various cities as well as centres for students and brothers.

In the places like Ba Thon, Tan Ha, Phuoc Loc, Xuan Hiep, Hoc Mon and K’long the Salesians offer guidance and vocational training to “help young people develop and experience Christian life in society,” said an administrator.

The Salesian presence dates back to 1952 when Fr Andrej Majcen, from Slovenia, and Father Giacomo, from Brazil, set up the Society’s first Vietnamese chapter in Hanoi. Two years later they moved south where they undertook a number of social activities.

Today the Salesians operate in nine dioceses: Hanoi, Saigon, Xuan Loc, Da lat, Vinh Long, Lang Son, Thai Binh and Hoa. In addition the bishop and auxiliary bishop of the diocese of Bui Chu belong to the Society.

Overall more than 100 priests and 200 brothers are members of the congregation, plus some 450 applicants and thousands of formers students from the schools of Da Lat province, Thu Duc district and Ho Chi Minh City.

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