02/23/2009, 00.00
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Work of training, formation at Ho Chi Minh City parish

by JB. VU
Thanks to the help of the Italian bishops, in the parish of St. Paul in the district of Binh Tan a training house has been built that can accommodate 500 people participating in formation courses.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - Ho Chi Minh City is a city of eight million inhabitants: in 2010, there will be two million immigrants there in search of work. In this situation, the gap between rich and poor is growing increasingly wide; young people in particular need training centers where they can attend long-term programs, refresher courses, or short-term classes.

This is the task taken on by Fr. Paul Pham Trung Dong, priest of the parish of St. Paul and head of the Emigrants Committee of the archdiocese of Saigon. He has created a home for formation courses for immigrants and for the poor people living in the areas around the district of Binh Tan. For years, Fr. Paul has worked with migrants, the poor, disadvantaged children, and young people in difficult situations.

Mr. Hung tells AsiaNews, "I come from the province of Quang Nam, and I work as a bricklayer for a private company. I attended a catechism class here. Now, my friends and I are also taking free classes in areas like computers, sewing, English, musical instruments, and using the psychological counseling center. It is a good model for helping and supporting us so that we can have opportunities to advance in life and mature in the Catholic faith."

The program of social and pastoral activities has helped thousands of young people every year. In the period of the lunar new year of 2009, 1,500 young people, 100 friars at the major seminary of St. Joseph, and sisters and priests came here to celebrate the Day for Migrants. During that same time, Cardinal Pham Minh Man and Fr. Joseph Dinh Huy Huong, head of the Social and Charity Committee, cut the ribbon to open the house for training courses. Build close to the parish, it sits on a 500 square meter tract of land, has three stories, and can accommodate 500 people attending the courses.

"In addition to the formation courses," Miss Hang explains, "the 'training house' is also a place for encounter, for exchanging life and work experiences. I am happy to come here. It is an opportunity to develop my abilities, to bring love for the faith and a wholesome liveliness to young people. Above all, there is a priest here who helps us spiritually, and helps the migrant workers."

Fr. Joseph Dinh Huy Huong, head of the Social and Charity Committee, says that "the Italian bishops' conference helped us to build and complete the project. Now all of the classes are in operation, but the organizers are still concerned about finding urgent assistance to maintain and complete the educational activities."

In order to help the young people, poor, and migrants, the People's Committee of the city is encouraging investment in new training courses. In 2008, Ho Chi Minh City had 320 vocational training locations in 24 districts, and organized short-term, basic training courses for 350,000 young people. In this way, the "training house" of the parish of St. Paul has been able to help and support thousands of migrants and poor people in the city.

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