In the midst of these torments, which usually terrify others, I am, by the grace of God, full of joy and gladness, because I am not alone – Christ is with me.A letter of Saint Paul Le-Bao-Tinh
The evangelization of Vietnam began in the 16th century and was formally established with the setting up of two Vicariates Apostolic in 1659. There are now about 6 million Catholics in Vietnam, some 10% of the population. This growth comes partly from the fact that since the earliest times the seed of the Faith has been watered by the blood of the martyrs of Vietnam – the missionary clergy, the local clergy and the ordinary Christian people. They have all shared the labour of apostolic work and have together faced death to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel. In the course of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries no less than 53 decrees, signed by the lords and emperors of the country from 1625 to 1886, launched one persecution of Christians after another, each one more savage than the last. Over the whole territory of Vietnam about 130,000 Christians were killed in these persecutions. Over the centuries the names of most of them have been lost, but their memory is still alive in the Catholic community. Since the beginning of the 20th century 117 of these heroes (those whose sufferings were cruellest and best documented) were beatified, in four groups. They were all canonized together by Pope John Paul II on 19 June 1988. Each one of them was a soul individually created and loved by God, with a life and gifts uniquely his or her own; but with such a huge crowd one can only classify. By nationality, there were 96 Vietnamese, 11 Spanish and 10 French. By status, there were 8 bishops, 50 priests, and 59 laymen and women. By mode of death, 75 were beheaded, 22 strangled, 6 burned alive, 5 torn to pieces while still alive, and 9 died of torture in prison. A description in French or Spanish can be found on the Vatican web site. An interesting and detailed history of the Catholic Church in Vietnam can be found in this blog entry. It includes an English translation of the Vatican text.
In 1975 the first group of Vietnamese refugees, consisting of 20 families, arrived in Amarillo, during the episcopate of Most Rev. Lawrence M. DeFalco. More Families and individuals arrived in the years 1976-1981. Rev. Joseph Doan Ngoc San was appointed in 1976 by Bishop DeFalco as personal pastor to Vietnamese refugees wherever they might be living in the Diocese of Amarillo, which at that time included what is now the Diocese of Lubbock.
St. Lucien’s Chapel on the grounds of Alamo Catholic Hight School was designated as the Vietnamese Catholic Church. On December 1, 1990, Bishop Leroy T. Matthiesen dedicated Our Lady of Vietnam Chapel in what was called the Vietnamese Cultural, Educational, and Worship Center in the diocesan building formerly occupied by Price College and then by Alamo Catholic High School.
The quasi-parish of Our Lady of Vietnam was established by Bishop Matthiesen on March 14, 1993. In 1998, the members of this community purchased the former Christ Lutheran Church only a few blocks to the northwest. On July 1, 1999, Our Lady of Vietnam was canonically erected by Bishop John W. Yanta. Bernard Cardinal Law dedicated the newly remodeled and refurbished Our Lady of Vietnam Church on July 4 1999. The following year, Our Lady of Vietnam Church was enlarged to increase the seating capacity.
For many years the priests of the Congregation of Mother Co-Redemptrix have served the Vietnamese Catholics of the Diocese of Amarillo. Bishop (now Cardinal) Bernard Law of the the Diocese of Springfield – Cape Girardeau had been appointed by the Holy See to assist refugee Vietnamese priests and religious. When Father Berard, took a year’s sabbatical in 1981, he suggested exiled Bishop Cua as a substitute for himself. Bishop Matthiesen contacted Bishop Law who agree to allow Bishop Cua to minister here. Rome gave its approval, but for only six months. Bishop Law recommended the priests of the Congregation of Mother Co-Redemptrix for the last sis months of Father Berard’s sabbatical.
A division arose between the first group of refugees from Vietnam who had left before the fall of Saigon, and the second group of “boat people” who left without being able to take their possessions with them. The first group seemingly tried to re-establish the political and cultural structures of the society they knew in Vietnam; the second group did not. The result was the existence of two distinct communities in Amarillo.
To respond to this division, Bishop Matthiesen appointed Father Berard, on his return from Harvard, to a new Resurrection Community, located St. Martin de Porres Church and entrusted the care of the Our Lady of Vietnam Community to the Co-Redemptrix Fathers of Carthage Missouri. When Fr. Berard withdrew from the diocese, the members of the Resurrection Community attempted to find a Vietnamese priest to minister to them. This effort failed and with that Bishop Matthiesen closed the Resurrection Community, inviting the members to join our lady of Vietnam Quasi-Parish.
However, I was brought down to reality very quickly when a mother of a young man shared this with me.Bishop Patrick J. Zurek, A Reflection on Christian Life, August 28, 2019
48. While on this 🚵♀️ pilgrimage in today’s world (which is largely a deaf world) I am asking, “At times, does the frantic pace of the modern world prevent me from listening attentively to what another person is saying???
DARK CLOUDS OVER A CLOSED WORLD
THE ILLUSION OF COMMUNICATION
Information without wisdom
i often lose my ability to listen…the ability to sit down and listen to others, typical of interpersonal encounters, which is paradigmatic of the welcoming attitude shown by those who transcend narcissism and accept others, caring for them and welcoming them into their lives…
many times i develop a fixation with my rights which leads me to neglect my responsibilities to others and leads me to interrupt someone halfway through what they are saying because i want to contradict them…
sometimes, unlike Saint Francis, who “heard the voice of God”, i don’t want to hear the voice of the poor, the infirm and of nature, so i choose instead to offer, “cheap consolations” to those who are suffering…
On Today’s bicycle pilgrimage I pray that I become a Catholic who desires that the seed Saint Francis planted may grow in the hearts of many”., and make others a way of life by addressing social and economic injustice and inequality occurring in my community, so that when the earth is harvested and the LORD rules with justice I will receive the crown of life and enter into a place where there will be no more plagues!!!