06/17/2010, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Xom Moi: 60,000 faithful, labourers and peasants, helping the poor

by J.B. Vu
The faithful live on modest monthly incomes, but maintain their commitment to the poor, to migrants and the sick. The Xom Moi area includes 16 parishes and is famous in the Saigon archdiocese for the many vocations it has given to the Vietnamese Church.
Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) –  The fight against prostitution, support for migrant workers, and help for the poor and the sick are but a few of the challenges 60,000 priests and faithful have to face every day in the 16 parishes of Xom Moi (Saigon archdiocese), an area south of Ho Chi Minh City. Most parishioners are manual labourers or peasants working in local farms, who lived or are still living on a modest monthly income. Nevertheless, this has not prevented them from making a commitment to their faith and to charitable work. Over the years, Xom Moi has also given the Vietnamese Church many vocations.

“Fr Nguyen Xuan Duc, vicar of the archdiocese, has done a great job over the years. He has helped the faithful take part in charity work and social activities,” Mrs Thinh, head of caritas in Thach Duc Parish, told AsiaNews. “Now, more than 120 people work for the parish Caritas.”

With about 100,000 dongs (US$ 6) raised among the faithful, the parish can help more than 600 sick people and provide the poor and migrant workers with basic necessities.

Vietnam’s recent economic development has generated many social problems. Millions of people have left rural areas for the cities, and this has led to the pauperisation and degradation of many urban areas.

The government has focused primarily on development and is not taking care of those people who have fallen through the cracks. The latter have had to turn to parish charities.

In Xom Moi, the Church is not however just a social agency. The success of the activities undertaken at the parish level depends especially on the faith and daily prayer of priests and faithful.

“Social and health problems affect families and communities especially hard,” a Caritas worker form Sao Mai parish said. “We Catholics are also hard pressed to help one another; often, there are differences among ourselves”.

Without the help of daily prayers and the mediation of priests, it would be impossible to do anything, he said.

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