Monthly Archives: October, 2018

Eucharistic miracles

The Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication presents a documentary on Eucharistic miracles, interviewing scientists and witnesses, and raising awareness of this global phenomenon.

The documentary “Segni” (Italian for “signs”), is inspired by the venerable Carlo Acutis, a young boy who died at the young age of 15 from a sudden onset of leukemia. He dedicated his life to spreading awareness of Eucharistic miracles. He even opened his own exhibition to showcase past miracles that, to him, prove God’s love for us.

Modern miracle

The documentary focuses on events that took place between 1999-2013 in Argentina, Poland, Mexico and Italy. These miracles that occurred when science was already advanced enough to become involved in defining the phenomenon occurring. Science that could look into these consecrated hosts that suddenly turned red, taking the form of meat, of human flesh.

Constant wonder

The producers of this documentary travelled to the locations where some of these miracles are said to have occurred. There, they spoke to those who discovered them, those who studied them and those who, to this day, still wonder over them.

Matteo Ceccarelli, the director, spoke before the projection of the film and explained that part of what he wanted to transmit through the documentary was the ‘what happens after’. He wanted to show that as a consequence of these miracles many of the priests “learned to re-commit themselves”. This was supported by Fr Andrzej Ziombra, from the Church of St Hyacinth in Legnica, Poland, where in 2013 a blood stain was discovered on a host. Fr Ziombra says “I discovered the beauty of priesthood”, after understanding that “something important had occurred in my church.”

Fungus one time, a miracle the next

Part of the fascination behind these modern day miracles is the voice that science has given them. Science can be used, and has been used, to refute miracles. This was the case in one church in Poland, where red stains were discovered on a host. After having it tested, it was discovered that the red was simply fungus. Science is also used to accept miracles, as was the case in the situations explored in the documentary.

God’s sign of love

In all these cases, the host, having taken on the form of flesh, was studied in depth by scientists. Similarities were discovered in all these cases: the presence of white blood cells that usually disappear after a few minutes after death; the recurring AB blood type; the heart tissue found; and the other signs of life and vitality. None of these could be scientifically explained.
As Franco Serafini, a cardiologist, said in his opening remarks, “faith is not humbled by science”. There are certain things medicine can do when studying miracles, he said. “The miracles can now speak to us in a scientific and technological language, understood by people in this day and age”.

Ricardo Castañón Gómez, contacted in 1999 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to study the host that had turned red after it had been placed in water, to this day is unable to explain this occurrence, at least not through science. One explanation, chosen by many, including the initially skeptical Mexican Bishop Alejo Zavala Castro, is simply that “this is what God wanted”, and that this is “Him, showing us He loves us”. Francesca Merlo

Synod: Pope Francis brings out the best in us

Sr Sally Marie Hodgdon, says that the Synod of Bishops on Young People was a “moment of conversion and grace”, guided by Pope Francis who “brought out the best in us”.

Sr Sally Marie Hodgdon, Superior General of the Sisters of St Joseph of Chambéry, one of the Synod auditors

One of the women religious who audited the Synod of Bishops on Young People is Sr Sally Marie Hodgdon, the Superior General of the Sisters of St Joseph of Chambéry. She represented the International Union of Superiors General in her capacity as its vice-president. She spoke with Sr Bernadette Reis about what it was like for her as a woman religious to participate in the Synod.

Moment of conversion

Sr Sally began saying that the Synod provided a “moment of conversion” for her. It helped her realize that she is not “as open to my young sisters or candidates as I could be”.

Moment of grace

Seeing how the Vatican works was a “moment of grace”, Sr Sally continued, because she was able to see it in a “different light”. She was “pleasantly surprised” by some of the processes used in the Synod, one of them being the brief period of reflection introduced by Pope Francis after each intervention.

“It gave the sense of more of a prayerful processing of information. This made a big difference. It’s very difficult to sit and listen to 370 interventions over the course of so many weeks. Having that moment of quiet and a beautiful scenery to look at on the screen really did help us to pause.”

Moments of openness

Sr Sally then described what it was like in her small group. “I could see conversion happening” among the Cardinals and bishops, she said.

“I could see their openness to our questions, to our modifications or amendments. The young people spoke often, as did I, as did the men from USG [Union of Superiors General, the male counterpart to the UISG], as did the priest from the Migrants and Refugees Section. We spoke as much as the Bishops and Cardinals, or more so, actually, than some of them.”

Moments of solidarity

Even though she and others in the small group could not vote, or formally present modifications, Sr Sally said that their suggestions were welcomed nonetheless. One of the Bishops in her group submitted some of the suggestions that came up.

“We worked as a network. That was very good for me as a woman religious to see. Because initially I thought, this is not very inviting to have us there but not able to submit amendments, or there and not able to speak freely. We all spoke very freely.”

Moments of being together with young people

Pope Francis contributed his own charisma to the Synod, Sr Sally said.

“Pope Francis is such a grace for our Church. He’s so open, he’s so welcoming, he’s so humble. And he brought that side out in all of us. There in person, he was able to bring us together with the youth and to bring the best out in us.”

Surprising moments

The youth sitting directly behind the women religious “were hootin’ and hollering”, Sr Sally interjected here.

“I watched the faces of the Bishops and Cardinals. And the first time, they were like, ‘Hmmm. This is different’. But after that, they loved it!”

Welcoming atmosphere

“In the end, it was a very welcoming atmosphere”, Sr Sally said. The difference made by the women religious auditors was their presence in the small groups and what they shared during informal discussions, she said.

“There were only 7 women religious there, but we made a huge impact on the Synod. We know that based on what people have told us. Last night when we were leaving, the Bishops and Cardinals were saying, “Thank you for being there. You really are the ‘Madri Sinodali’ [Synod Mothers]. That meant a lot to us because we knew our voices were heard.”- Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp, Vatican News, 30 Oct 2018

Women religious call to be prophetic voice of Synod

Fresh from the Synod experience, 6 women religious reflect on the specific gift women religious have in taking the Synod from the hall into the actual lives of young people.

Sisters who participated in the Synod speak about how women religious can implement it

Vatican – On Monday evening, the day after the Synod concluded, 6 women religious representing the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) met with women religious, ambassadors to the Holy See and journalists. They reflected on how women religious can make the Synod bear fruit in the lives of young people.

Memory

Young people’s needs and dreams should be part of the meetings and planning at every level of religious life, Sr Sally Marie Hodgdon, Superior General of the Sisters of St Joseph of Cambéry, said. Religious are the “memory”, the “prophetic voice” moving the Synod forward, reminding the Church what happened at the Synod and living the spirit, she said. This means reminding the Bishops of some ideas that came out of the Synod, such as, the creation of diocesan youth councils, synods of young people in the local churches, and the inclusion of youth in Bishops’ Conference meetings using the Synod method.

Conversion

Religious life itself needs to undergo a conversion, several of the sisters said. Sr Allesandra Smerilli said that women religious need to open up their convents to allow young people in. In addition to being available to them for accompaniment, women religious need training. “Are we ready?” she asked.

Clericalism

Sr Mina Kwon, mentioned that she is disappointed that there is not more about overcoming clericalism in the Final Document. “It needs to be overcome before it’s too late”, she said. On the other hand, Sr Mina said that the Synod took place in the corridors and over meals and not just in the Synod hall. There, she was encouraged to keep speaking out. Because of this she is going back to Korea feeling called to continue working to overcome this sense of “superiority, and entitlement”.

Discrimination

Regarding the absence of a message for those who feel marginalized due to their sexual orientation, Sr Nathalie Becquart responded that the discussion of same sex relationships is stronger in some parts of the world than in others. Some countries are open to the topic whereas it bears the death penalty in others. One young person said that he could be killed if the topic were to appear in a document in which he participated drafting.

Sr Lucy Muthoni Nderi picked up the discussion saying that the Church is not ready to respond. The Bishops did not want to give “ready-made answers”. The Church needs time, Sr Lucy said, in order to understand. The message from the Synod is that discrimination does not belong in the Church. Jesus began with the lived experience of each person and brought the person on a journey toward accomplishing his dream for them.

Sr Lucy also reiterated the request from young people who said they want to hear the Church’s wisdom regarding the body and sexuality. Young people would like us to listen to them before we start listing the prohibitions and doctrine which turns them off, she said.

Fragility and holiness

When asked about the request from young people for both clarity from the Church, but also an accompaniment from fellow Catholics who can admit that they don’t know everything, Sr Lucy Muthoni Nderi responded. She said that young people seek clarity regarding the Church’s teaching, but vulnerability from those who accompany them, who can share the same faith journey. The relational approach, Sr Lucy continued, can teach a lot that includes doctrine, but that also manifests the face of Jesus. Young people seek credible and trustworthy adults to accompany them – adults who are not perfect but who are on the path to holiness. – Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp, Vatican News, 30 Oct 2018

 

A Synod transform by the presence of young people

One day after the Synod on Young People concludes, 6 of the 7 women religious who participated share their experience of how they saw the Synod transformed by the presence of the young auditors.

Women religious unpack the Synod experience

Vatican – A synthesis of the Synod on Young People through the eyes of 6 of the 7 women religious who participated, organized by the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) in Rome, took place on Monday evening, the day after the Synod formally concluded. Women religious, ambassadors to the Holy See, and journalists took part in person while others joined online via webinar.

Sisters auditors and voting

Sr Sally Marie Hodgdon, representing UISG as a Superior General at the Synod, responded to the question regarding parity with the male Superiors General counterpart, USG. She said the executive boards of both the UISG and USG have decided to draft a document. In it, they will request that the numbers of auditors from both groups be the same, and that both have voting privileges. She added that this issue was brought up not only by women, but by Bishops, Cardinals and the young people as well.

Synodality

Sr Allesandra Smerilli, a Salesian Sister, described the listening that led to conversion. Referring to Cardinal Tagle, she said that the listening took place not only with the ears, but also with their gut. Many, including Bishops, were moved by the stories that they heard. This, Sr Allesandra said, provides the backdrop to the addition of synodality in the Final Document which is absent from the Instrumentum Laboris (par. 118ff). A synodal journey took place and transformed the Bishops from defending their authority to embracing synodality. Sr Allesandra said it is because of the presence of the young people that the Bishops began to speak about their personal “synodal” experiences, and were able to articulate it in the Final Document.

Festival

Sr Mina Kwon, a Sr of St Paul of Chartres from Korea, called the Synod a festival. She was surprised each day by what God prepared. Throughout the month, the young auditors began to understand that the Church loves them, she said. It was not just the Bishops, but the young people, too, who were talking about what they plan on doing when they return to their countries.

The signs of the times

Sr Lucy Muthoni Nderi, a Salesian Sister from Kenya, said that it was the young people who helped the Bishops identify the signs of the times. The young people reminded the bishops not to talk about them as if they are outside of the Church, but as people ready to help in the Church’s mission. This, she said, is how they awakened synodality.

New Pentecost

Sr Nathalie Becquart, a sister of the Xavière Missionaries of Christ Jesus, feels that the Synod is a new Pentecost. She said she could hear the voices of young people in the Bishops. The strong and deep human experiences lived in the Synod helped the Bishops live the Emmaus encounter that became the paradigm of the Final Document. Through this experience they have understood that young people can be partners in the mission of the Church. It also affected the paragraph on man and woman (13), and the paragraph specifically on women in the Church (55), she said. Sr Nathalie emphasized as well that the Bishops and Cardinals at the Synod were asking for women to be present in the decision-making process.

Pilgrimage

Sr Maria Luisa Berzosa González, Director of Catholic School and Popular Education from Spain, took part as an expert. As an expert, she did a lot of listening and because of that began to understand a lot. The pilgrimage, the intergenerational dialogue, and the concert with prisoners were other ways that shaped the experience, she said. She drew particular attention to the pilgrimage. That was when everyone was equal, providing support, handing someone water…. Sr Maria Luisa thinks that the pilgrimage played a large role that allowed the Bishops a concrete experience within which to understand synodality. – Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp, Vatican News, 29 Oct 2018

Pope emphasizes importance of truth in journalism

Pope Francis (file photo) (Vatican Media)

Vatican – Pope Francis has sent a message to the Italian news agency SIR (Servizio Informazione Relgiosa/Religious Information Service) in time for the thirtieth anniversary of its publication. The agency was founded in order to help better communicate information relating to both religious and world affairs to the Italian Catholic Church.

“Continue your work”

In his address the Pope began by reminding the workers of SIR that “Thirty years is a long time, but it is not the end of the line. Therefore, continue your work with the same novelty with which your founding fathers have thought, and thereby brought about a unique project, an instrument for information to connect the Italian territories with each other and their Diocese’s.” The Pope went on to note that the agency is an instrument of socio-cultural communion between Italian Catholics.

Committed to truth and impartiality

Pope Francis praised the vision of the first president of SIR, Mons Giusseppe Cacciami, who hoped that the agency would be judged for its commitment to truth and impartiality when reporting. The Pope suggested that Mons Cacciami’s wishes are particularly important today, as the world witnesses the rise of “Fake news.” He therefore exhorted the journalists of SIR to “Continue to practice your profession, always tending towards the truth, for that is the best antidote and most effective way to combat falsity.”

A voice for those who have no voice

Towards the end of the message Pope Francis asked that journalists become a voice for someone who has no voice themselves. The Pope promised to accompany those journalists as they take on this work, saying that he will always be willing to listen to them and to build bridges within the communities in which they work.- John Waters, Vatican News, 29 Oct 2018

Pope Francis: Synod must continue to work in our hearts

As the XV General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops draws to a close, Pope Francis thanks those who took part. He gave thanks especially to the young people who “brought us their music here in the Hall.

Pope Francis offers his reflections at the conclusion of the final session of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (Vatican Media)

Speaking off the cuff at the conclusion of the General Assembly of the Synod, Pope Francis emphasised three main points that, he said, “I carry in my heart.”

The Synod is not a parliament

First, he reminded those present at the Synod that “the Synod is not a Parliament.” Rather, the Synod is a “protected space” where the Holy Spirit is allowed to work. For this reason, the information about what happened in the Synod was more general, with few specific details released. “Let us not forget this,” the Pope said: “It was the Spirit who worked here.”

The Synod must work in our hearts

Pope Francis’ second point related to the final document of the Synod, which was approved on Saturday. However, the Pope said, “the result of the Synod is not a document.” Rather, the Synod must “work in our hearts.” He continued, “the Spirit gives us the document to work in our hearts. We are the recipients of the document, not the people outside.” In order to for the document to work, he said, it is important “to pray with the document, study it, ask for light.”

Combat the Great Accuser with prayer and penance

Finally, the Pope said “I think of our Mother, Holy Mother Church.” The final document recognises that the Church is holy, even if we “Her children, are sinners.” Pope Francis said, the “Great Accuser” always takes advantage of our sins; and now, in particular, “he is accusing strongly, and this accusation becomes persecution.” That persecution, he explained, is not only the physical violence we see in some parts of the world, but also accusations designed to smear the Church. Although individual Catholics are dirty, the Church is not – and for this reason, the Pope said, “it is time to defend our Mother; and our Mother is defended against the Great Accuser with prayer and penance.” That, he said, is why he requested the faithful to pray the Rosary, and to pray to Saint Michael throughout the month of October. “It is a difficult moment,” the Pope said, “because the accuser attacks our Mother [the Church] through us, and the Church is not touched. I wanted to say this ‘from the heart’ at the end of the Synod.”

Pope Francis concluded, “Now, the Holy Spirit gives you this document for all of us, and also for me, to reflect on what He wants to say to us. Thank you very much; thank you, everyone!”- Christopher Wells, Vatican News, 28 Oct 2018

 

Letter from the Synod Fathers to young people

Full text of the Letter from the Synod Fathers to Young People, read at the conclusion of the final Mass.

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri reads the “Letter from the Synod Fathers to Young People” at the conclusion of the final Mass (Vatican Media)

XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops

We the Synod Fathers now address you, young people of the world, with a word of hope, trust and consolation. In these days, we have gathered together to hear the voice of Jesus, “the eternally young Christ”, and to recognize in Him your many voices, your shouts of exultation, your cries, and your moments of silence.

We are familiar with your inner searching, the joys and hopes, the pain and anguish that make up your longings. Now we want you to hear a word from us: we wish to be sharers in your joy, so that your expectations may come to life. We are certain that with your enthusiasm for life, you will be ready to get involved so that your dreams may be realized and take shape in your history.

Our weaknesses should not deter you; our frailties and sins must not be an obstacle for your trust. The Church is your mother; she does not abandon you; she is ready to accompany you on new roads, on higher paths where the winds of the Spirit blow stronger – sweeping away the mists of indifference, superficiality and discouragement.

When the world that God so loved, that he gave us his only Son, Jesus, is focused on material things, on short-term successes, on pleasures, and when the world crushes the weakest, you must help it to rise up again and to turn its gaze towards love, beauty, truth and justice once more.

For a month, we have walked together with some of you and with many others who have been united to us through prayer and affection. We wish to continue the journey now in every part of the earth where the Lord Jesus sends us as missionary disciples.

The Church and the world urgently need your enthusiasm. Be sure to make the most fragile people, the poor and those wounded by life your traveling companions.

You are the present; be a brighter future. – Vatican news, 28 Oct 2018

The Synod on Young People: What does the Final Document Say?

On Saturday afternoon, the Final Document of the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops consisting of 3 parts, 12 chapters, 167 paragraphs and 60 pages is approved in the Synod Hall.

Group photo of the participants in the Synod for Youth (Vatican Media)

The text was received with applause, Cardinal da Rocha said. It is “the result of real teamwork” on the part of the Synod Fathers, together with other Synod participants and “the young people in a particular way”. The Document, therefore, gathers the 364 modifications, or amendments, that were presented. “Most of them,” the Cardinal said, “were precise and constructive”. Furthermore, the entire document passed with the necessary 2/3 majority voting in favor.

The inspiration for the Final Document for the Synod on Youth is the episode of the disciples of Emmaus, recounted by the evangelist Luke. It was read in the Synod Hall by the Rapporteur General, Cardinal Sérgio da Rocha, by the Special Secretaries, Fr Giacomo Costa and Fr Rossano Sala, together with Bishop Bruno Forte, a member of the Commission for the drafting of the text. It is complementary to the Instrumentum laboris of the Synod, and follows the three-part subdivision.

Part One: “He walked with them”

The first part of the document considers concrete aspects of young people’s lives. It emphasizes the important of schools and parishes. It acknowledges the need for laity to be trained to accompany young people especially since so many priests and bishops are already overburdened. The Document notes the irreplaceable role of Catholic educational institutions. The challenge the Document addresses is the need to rethink the role of the parish in terms of its vocational mission because it is often ineffective and not very dynamic, above all in the realm of catechesis.

The reality of young people regarding migration, abuse, the “throwaway culture” are also dwelt on in part one. Regarding abuse, the Synod Document calls for a “firm commitment for the adoption of rigorous preventive measures that will keep such abuse from being repeated, beginning with the selection and formation of those to whom leadership and educational roles are entrusted”. The world of art, music and sports is also discussed in terms of using them as “pastoral resources”.

Part Two: “Their eyes were opened”

The Synod Document calls young people one of the “theological places” in which the Lord makes himself present. Thanks to them, it says, the Church can renew herself, shaking off its “heaviness and slowness”. Mission, it says is a “sure compass” for youth since it is the gift of self that brings an authentic and lasting happiness. Closely connected with the concept of mission is vocation. Every baptismal vocation is a call to holiness.

Two other aspects covered in part two that aid in the development of the mission and vocation of young people are that of accompaniment and discernment.

Part Three: “They left without delay”

The icon presented by the Synod Fathers of the young Church is Mary Magdalene, the first witness of the Resurrection. All young people, the Synod Fathers affirm, including those with different visions of life, are in God’s heart.

“Walking together” is the synodal dynamic which the Fathers also bring to light in the part three. They invite the Conferences of Bishops’ around the world to continue the process of discernment with the aim of developing specific pastoral solutions. The definition of “synodality” provided is a style for mission that encourages us to move from “I” to “we” and to consider the multiplicity of faces, sensitivities, origins and cultures. One request repeatedly made in the hall, was that of establishing a “Directory of youth ministry in a vocational key” on the national level, that can help diocesan and parish leaders qualify their training and action “with” and “for” young people, helping to overcome a certain fragmentation of the pastoral care of the Church.

The Synod Document reminds families and Christian communities of the importance of accompanying young people to discover the gift of their sexuality. The bishops recognize the Church’s difficulty in transmitting “the beauty of the Christian vision of sexuality” in the current cultural context. It is urgent, the document says, to seek “more appropriate ways which are translated concretely into the development of renewed formative paths”.

In the end, the Document brings the various topics covered in the Synod into one vocational thrust, that is, the call to holiness. “Vocational differences are gathered in the unique and universal call to holiness”. Through the holiness of so many young people willing to renounce life in the midst of persecution in order to remain faithful to the Gospel, the Church can renew its spiritual ardor and its apostolic vigor. – Vatican News, 27 Oct 2018

Catholic Nurses Guild Malaysia hosts CICIAMS 20th World Congress

KUCHING – The “pioneering spirit” of the Church and early missionaries contributed to Sarawak’s social and human development, says Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah.

He said the missionaries had ventured into the jungles of Borneo to help the rural population by setting up schools for education and small clinics for health-care.

“I am one of the beneficiaries of such a school. If it had not been set up, I might not be standing here today,” the guest-of-honour said when opening the International Catholic Committee of Nurses and Medico-Social Assistants’ (CICIAMS) 20th World Congress here on 5 Sept 2018.

Uggah added that the clinics set up by the missionaries, which were staffed by Sisters and laypersons trained as nurses and midwives, became the backbone and foundation of government medical clinics as the state developed.

The congress, which takes place once in four years, was held at the Riverside Majestic Hotel  from 4-7 Sept 2018.

Also present at the global event, which was hosted by Catholic Nurses Guild Malaysia, were Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect for the Dicastery for promoting Integral Human Development; Archbishop Joseph Salvador Marino, Papal Nuncio; Bishop Cornelius Sim, Episcopal President of the Commission of Pastoral Healthcare of the Bishop’s Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei; and Archbishop Simon Poh of the Archdiocese of Kuching.

The four-day congress, held for the first time here, attracted about 300 delegates from Malaysia and 18 from other countries.

On the congress, Uggah said its focus on issues affecting children, youth and the elderly would provide tools for education, sustaining life and promoting human development through the nursing and healthcare profession.

Cardinal Turkson reminded Catholic nurses that they are “ministers of life, and that sustainable care was done by Jesus Christ.”   Referring to the theme of the congress, the Cardinal urged Catholic nurses to “educate, provide sustainable care and respect life”.

CICIAMS, through the congress, aims to provide a forum for its members to share experience on issues of education for sustainable health, engaging development and respecting life across the human life cycle.

In line with this year’s theme: Education for Sustainable Health: Engaging Development, Respecting Life, the congress hoped to achieve the objectives of 1) Improving and developing skills and expertise in the nursing profession in the context of the Catholic faith; 2) Sharing of global, regional and countries’ evidence for the development of tools to educate, sustain life and promote health for all and to enable each person to live with dignity; and 3) Equipping delegates with strategies to assist individuals and communities to live life with meaning and purpose through the life cycle of the human person.

Delegates returning home were strongly recommended to promote the Social teachings of the Church, to reach out to the needy, to see Christ in every person and ‘may they see Christ in us’. The church does not wait for the wounded to knock on her doors; she looks for them in the streets, she gathers them in, she embraces them, and she makes them feel loved in the name of God in Mercy.

Catholic Nurses were urged to upgrade their nursing development via continuous education and engagement with research in evidence based learning.

The congress concluded with the statement that the Church considers service to people who are sick and suffering an integral part of the Church mission.

At the same time, the congress has affirmed that CICIAMS will promote the scientific and pastoral response of the Holy See to questions relating to Human Dignity, Migration, Health Care, Charitable works and care of creation. – Francisca Malantin, thestar, and others

Vietnam pilgrimage an eye-opener to Sandakan BEC

SANDAKAN – The BEC of St Teresa of Calcutta, Sandakan was formed in 2010 with some 30 active families. Since its inception, the members have made two local pilgrimages (Diocese of Keningau and St Anne, Bukit Mertajam, Penang) and an overseas pilgrimage to Manila, the Philippines. This year, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam was selected as their destination with assistance from the Vietnam IFFAsia Alumni (Institute of Formation Fondacio).

Over the course of five days, we visited seven Catholic pilgrimage sites, churches, Saigon Archbishop’s Residence and Pastoral Centres with significant historical and architectural values.

We were particularly impressed by Vietnam Catholics in forming the faith of their young.

In another parish, we witnessed how the International Young Catholic Students organized children faith formation by giving catecheses accompanied with activities.

The faith and religious practice among the Vietnamese believers is very much alive. This could be seen from the attendance of the faithful during the morning Mass in Notre Dame Cathedral.

Apart from the spiritual pilgrimage, we also took the opportunity to understand the Vietnamese way of life, culture and history by visiting places like the Mekong Delta, War Remnant Museum and the Presidential Palace. For many of us, we know little about Vietnam.  We knew Vietnam as a war-trodden country but after setting our foot here, we realized that Vietnam is a fast developing country. Coming to Vietnam, we saw it as a place where the Christian faith is flourishing, as can be seen in their efforts in nurturing a strong faith among the young.  We have come to see Vietnam as a place where God’s love reaches out to many and the people responding with faith and zeal. – Dalius LL  

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