03/16/2018, 13.53
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The remains of the late archbishop have come home to the archdiocese in Saigon

by Paul Nguyen Hung

Fr Ignatius Hồ Văn Xuân and Fr Joseph Đào Nguyên remember Mgr Paul Bùi Văn Đọc and his last days. For Catholics in Saigon, "Now Archbishop Paul belongs to the love of Jesus and the Church in heaven."

Ho Chí Minh City (AsiaNews) – Mgr Paul (Phaolô) Bùi Văn Đọc has come home. The late archbishop of Saigon died on 6 March during the ad limina visit of the Vietnamese bishops to the Vatican. His remains will be buried tomorrow in the ancient church of the pastoral centre of his archdiocese.

Fr Ignatius (Inhaxiô) Hồ Văn Xuân, Vicar General of Saigon, was with Mgr Paul Bùi Văn Đọc during the last days of life. He shared his thoughts with archdiocesan media.

"On 25 February, the 32 bishops of Vietnam went to Paris (France),” he said. “For the first time, prelates, priests, religious and faithful were concerned about the archbishop’s health.”

"At the time, Mgr Paul struggled to walk and barely dragged his small suitcase,” Fr Xuân explained. “'It doesn’t matter. It's all right,’ he said as he walked slowly toward the airport. Shortly after he told me: 'Please try to restore [Saigon’s] Notre-Dame cathedral well.' 'Yes, I'll try,' I replied.”

"After a few steps he asked me: 'When will you build the parish hall?' 'Dear Archbishop, I think in 2019. When the restoration of the cathedral is almost finished, we will build it.' At that point, the archbishop told me: 'When you build it, remember to make it beautiful'. 'Yes, I know. I will do as you wish,' I answered.”

"I did not imagine that those would be his last words to me,” Fr Xuân said. “Pope Francis ordained him bishop of Saigon in 2014 and when I started working with him, Mgr Paul shared many things with me.

“One day, when we were at the archdiocesan pastoral centre, he asked me: 'Who have you buried in this church?' 'Archbishop Paul Nguyễn Văn Bình and Mgr He Nguyễn Văn Nẫm, auxiliary bishop of Saigon.' 'When I die, where will you bury me?' he asked me. 'It depends on you,'” I said.

"On the day of our arrival, 2 March, we saw that Mgr Paul was very tired,” said Fr Joseph (Giuse) Đào Nguyên talking about the archbishop's last days in Rome.

“The following day, he visited the tombs of the holy apostles Peter and Paul with the other bishops, before going to the Roman parish of St Thomas the Apostle, entrusted to Card Pierre (Phêrô) Nguyên Văn Nhon.

"Inside the church the archbishop had his confession. On 5 March, after meeting Pope Francis, Mgr Paul asked Fr Đào Nguyên Vũ to open the box of the pontiff's gifts to the bishops, choosing for himself a white rosary. 'It's so beautiful!’ he said. ‘I will use it for all my life.' Shortly afterwards he began to pray.”

In 2014, Mgr Paul Bùi Văn Đọc gave an interview to AsiaNews, in which he expressed his love for the faithful and his desire to celebrate Mass in all the parish communities, even the smallest, and in all the congregations of his archdiocese. For Catholics in Saigon, "Now Archbishop Paul belongs to the love of Jesus and the Church in heaven."

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