'Community of charity and social services' has its first priest
Bishop Emeritus Paul Nguyen Cong Hoan led the first ordination ceremony attended by more than 40 priests and a thousand people, including Catholics and members of other religions.
The 'Community of Charity and Social Services' of Than Linh in the Diocese of Phan Thiet in southern Vietnam celebrated the ordination of its first priest, Father Joseph Jang Van Tiep, a few days ago.
Bishop Emeritus Paul Nguyen Cong Hoan led the ceremony attended by more than 40 priests and a thousand people, including Catholics and members of other religions.
During the homily, he thanked God for the gift of a priest. The celebration that followed the ordination ceremony was a source of encouragement to social and charity activities among the poor communities of the Diocese of Phan Thiet.
"Our motto is 'unconditional love and service', and that is why we pray to God and the Virgin Mary for all the people who work with and for the good of the Church," the prelate explained.
Local Catholic communities lead a tough life, but the bishop's presence and the action of priests provide great help and comfort. Under the motto 'love, respect and free service', the diocese has sought to improve the lives of the people, especially the poor and the sick.
Paul Nguyen was the parish vicar at Thanh Linh in 1995, when he founded the group with its mission centred on pastoral care with a truly missionary impetus. Working in the poorest and remotest areas of the diocese, they contribute to local spiritual, human, and social uplifting, proclaiming the Gospel through concrete action.
Thanks to the then Bishop Nicolas Huynh Van Nghi's permission in 2004, the community has since then received official recognition from local Church leaders. Two years later, in 2006, the government sanctioned the official name of the charitable organisation, within the Diocese of Phan Thiet.
After 18 years, the religious community has 224 members, including seminarians, 78 religious men and women, and its first trained priest.
The ratification by the Holy See of the ‘small congregation’ seems to be close at hand following the recent pastoral visit by Bishop Leopoldo Girelli, non-resident representative of the Holy See in Vietnam.
A young woman who attended the ordination ceremony expressed her deep gratitude towards members of the congregation. "They are always very close to us, especially in case of social problems, like the lack of drinking water, education and health for our children, as well as catechetical education and spiritual guidance," she said.