New church opens in Vietnam’s centuries-old sub-parish

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Vietnam

Catholics in Vinh Lai sub-parish have endured suffering from wars, natural disasters and religious persecution

Catholics attend the inauguration of the new church in Vinh Lai sub-parish, Nam Dinh province on May 9. (Photo courtesy of tonggiaophanhanoi.org)

Posted: May 10, 2022 09:37 GMT

Updated: May 10, 2022 at 09:46 GMT

Catholics in northern Vietnam who have endured pain and suffering caused by wars, natural disasters and religious persecution have witnessed the opening of a new church.

Cardinal Peter Nguyen Van Nhon, Archbishop Emeritus of Hanoi, officially blessed the new church in Vinh Lai sub-parish in Vu Ban district of Nam Dinh province on May 9.

About 20 priests joined in the special Thanksgiving Mass which was attended by hundreds of people, many wearing traditional costumes.

Cardinal Nhon said the new church with an area of ​​300 square meters and a bell tower 25 meters high is the fourth church built by local people since the beginning of the 20th century.

For the first time, local Catholics attended the inauguration of a church as political and social upheaval interrupted the inauguration of previous churches.

“The construction of the new church in the same location as the older churches shows that local Catholics have absolute trust in divine mercy and have persevered in building up community for centuries,” the 84-year-old cardinal said.

“Looking at our ups and downs, we see that God offers many graces to the sub-parish which is home to several martyrs and produces many priests and religious”

The history of the local Catholic community is remarkable as the sub-parish dates back hundreds of years since foreign missionaries brought the Catholic faith to the local people, he said.

Cardinal Nhon said that in some difficult times, the sub-parish had a few families after most of the other people moved to other places to avoid hardship.

“It is your strong attachment to one another to maintain the sub-parish, lead an active life of faith and live in harmony,” he told attendees.

“Looking at our ups and downs, we see that God is offering much grace to the sub-parish which is home to several martyrs and produces many priests and religious.”

Noting that many local young people are moving to other places to study and work, Cardinal Nhon urged residents to pray and stay in regular contact with loved ones and help them keep their faith and religious traditions alive in their new places.

With the financial support of people from other places and abroad, they built a new church three years later, although the priests were not allowed to make regular pastoral visits.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the late Father Joseph Hoang Quoc Tuan took over the pastoral care of the sub-parish of Vinh Lai with 1,700 members. They had a little wooden church.

In 1909 they started building another larger church to meet the religious needs of the local people and the church was not completed until 12 years later due to financial difficulties.

The church was badly damaged in 1953 by bombs during heavy fighting between French troops and communist forces. Most Catholics had to move elsewhere to avoid war. After the war, they repaired and used the church until 1986, when a tropical storm completely destroyed it.

With the financial support of people from elsewhere and abroad, they built a new church three years later, although the priests were not allowed to make regular pastoral visits.

The building was in poor condition after being used for almost 30 years, and they started building a new one in early 2018 which was completed four years later.

Vinh Lai sub-parish belonging to Dai Lai parish has 316 Catholics.

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