By Vatican News staff writer
Whilst many countries around the world begin easing their Covid-19 restrictions, the situation in Vietnam continues to worsen. On Monday, 13,483 positive cases were registered and of these 1,714 were in Ho Chi Minh City alone. As a result, Catholic communities in the local archdiocese have mobilised to offer their assistance.
Tân Trang Parish
Father Joseph Đinh Văn Thọ, vicar of Tân Trang Parish, called on the faithful to pray and perform works of charity. The parish has organised special food distributions for those most in need. These include, amongst others, rubbish collectors, the elderly, the ill, and those living in the poorest areas. Fr Joseph explains that "many families face great challenges, but we always have faith in God. We pray for peace for everyone and for the end of the pandemic. And we thank those who with their generosity help us bring this aid in a spirit of charity and love."
St Martin's Parish
In St. Martin's Parish, Fr. Peter Vũ Minh Hùng had already opened Quán Cơm 2000, a soup kitchen in which the poor can receive a bowl of rice for the symbolic price of 2,000 dong (the equivalent of a few US cents), in 2016. Because of the pandemic, the soup kitchen was forced to close, but reorganised itself as a place in which to distribute rice to the poor and needy, including those who make a living selling lottery tickets or driving motorcycle taxis. Between 500 and 600 people arrive for delivery each day, with Fr. Peter Vũ Minh Hùng himself participating in food preparation.
Xuân Hiệp Parish
Salesian Fr. Joseph Nguyễn Trường Thạch, vicar of Xuân Hiệp Parish, has organised the distribution of food parcels to which the Department of Charity and Social Works of the Vietnamese Jesuit Province also contributes. The parish has also set aside small sums of money to support those who are struggling to pay their water and electricity bills or to buy medicine.
In one of the areas hardest hit by Covid, the parish of Hoàng Mai itself has had to experience quarantine in recent days. But even this hardship has not stopped the spirit of charity, with families sharing food and masks.
The Catholic Church in Vietnam
Vietnam has the fifth largest Catholic population in Asia, after the Philippines, India, China and Indonesia. There are about 7 million Catholics in Vietnam, representing 7.0% of the total population, and the Church is present with 27 dioceses (including three archdioceses) that include over 2,200 parishes and more than 2,500 priests. A government census of 2019 shows that Catholicism, for the first time, is the largest religious denomination in the country, surpassing Buddhism.