08/22/2015, 00.00
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Vĩnh Long diocese gives scholarships to Mekong Delta’s poor children

by Thanh Thuy
The diocese helps the people of four provinces thanks to voluntary groups working with young people, often left alone by their parents who go out in search of work. On August 17, the bishop died and the successor has yet to be elected. A priest: "We are here to bring God's mercy to the suffering”

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - The population of the Mekong Delta "suffers from many difficulties. We are here to bring them the mercy of God. I am very happy! Many think that the difficulties are due to poverty, but they’re not. They are rooted in the fact that they are in need. This is what we should be aware of ." These are the words of Fr. Peter Dương Văn Thanh, a priest of the diocese of Vĩnh Long, in the south of the country. The diocese is located between the provinces of Trà Vinh, Bến Tre and Đồng Tháp, all located on the delta of the largest river in Vietnam.

After being the cradle of the communist revolution between 1945 and 1975, the diocese has become a landmark of the Church in South Vietnam, counting 209 parishes, 176 priests, 471 catechists and nearly 200 thousand parishioners. On 17 August last year Bishop Nguyen Van Tân died, and from that day the diocese has been without a pastoral leader. Some inhabitants of Vĩnh Long City told AsiaNews: "We have faith in God, his providence counts every hair on our head. He will not abandon his people and the diocese of Vĩnh Long. We pray to God for the gift of a good shepherd".

In August, the diocese held a Youth Day, which was attended by thousands of young people, sharing their experience and reinforcing the sense of Catholic identity. Young people are also the protagonists of the volunteer group (Nhóm Thiện Nguyện Tín Thác) leading social and charitable activities in the parishes, the faithful praying together for the appointment of the new bishop.

The territory of the diocese is rich. There are numerous rice fields and the river is full of fish. People used to say "làm Choi mà ăn That" ("work is as simple as play and the harvest is plentiful"). The times of plenty are over but now society is particularly volatile due to the phenomenon of migration to the big cities. With the changing economic environment and environmental damage, the farmers are forced to move to find work.

A boy of the diocese of An Hiep writes: "My name is Thanh Nhân. My parents work in a shipyard. My family is very poor and my parents have to work in a distant city. I just hope that my parents come back to me soon. We will plant rice and we will have enough money to pay school fees".

The social activities of the volunteers are targeted primarily at the poor and children (70% of the population), including non-Catholics. The diocese cooperates with local authorities of the four provinces to provide scholarships to young people. Last month, the group of volunteers donated 365 scholarships to children of 24 parishes gathered in the cathedral of the diocese. One of the local officials said that "giving scholarships to poor children is a joint effort from all sectors, of all religions, and a duty of all. I want to thank Nhóm Thiện Nguyện Tín Thác Thac and the diocese of Vĩnh Long for the commitment and the support they give to our poor children".

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