The new wave of Covid-19 in Vietnam is putting a strain on the poor. How-ever, it is also an opportunity for many to discover the vitality of Catholic realities as in the parish of Hòa Hung, in the archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City, which is not at all discouraged in these difficult times.
In 1946, the Catholic community in Hòa Hung numbered just 46, but today it has grown to about 9,000. In the compound there is rice and bread distribution for the poor, a drinking water station, a hostel for female students, a support group for those who live by collecting rubbish. Father Joseph Ph¡m Bá Lãm, parish priest, explains that the rice distribution has been active for seven years now and is supported by monthly offerings from benefactors.
“It continues to operate even today with the pandemic,” he explains, “while members of the Catholic Association visit the poorest families”. As for the drinking water station, Father Lãm says it was set up three years ago and provides clean water every day to all the residents of the neighbourhood, Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
The Pastoral Council creates the conditions for all the faithful of the parish to participate in the activities. The groups of elderly people,” says Peter Nguyen, one of the leaders, “have been working together with the Dominicans. The group of Catholic mothers is involved in charitable activities. The Eucharistic Youth Movement has also set up aid missions for people living in remote areas in the mountains: before leaving, a project is prepared with the Catholic Association of the parish, which is then checked on return”. The parish has also asked the local authorities for a list of poor families living in the neighbourhood, and on the basis of this information is supporting them all with rice and essential goods.