From Saigon to the Central Highlands, 10 years of witness to Christ and the Gospel
In the Year of Faith, the parish of Vuon Xoai celebrates the mission among the Montagnards. A 800 km long journey to bring the Word of God and celebrate Mass "every two weeks." The faithful ask for the creation of a stable community and the presence of priests. A " long cultivated" wish.
Kontum (AsiaNews) - Ten years of evangelization among the peoples of the Central Highlands of Vietnam "is a magnificent achievement", as well as a sign of "missionary journey" of the Vietnamese Catholic community. The work of proclaiming the Gospel "must remain the most important task" for each of the faithful, especially "among minorities, which are part of our people, still waiting for our contribution and our witness." This is what faithful of the parish of Vuon Xoai, Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City in the south of the country told AsiaNews, as they celebrate the "10-year mission" among the Montagnards in the central plains. "The feeling of a pastoral and social journey - they add - is extremely important, it is a sign of comfort and help of the [Holy] Spirit in our witness of life, particularly in this Year of Faith".
Since 2003, a parish of the Archdiocese of Saigon started a missionary program in the most remote and inaccessible areas in central Vietnam. Along a 800 km path, the faithful of the south bring comfort, material and spiritual assistance to a reality often on the economic and social margins of the nation and the Church itself. For a long time, in fact, the Catholics of the area have been waiting to be recognized as a parish of the Diocese of Kontum. "It's a long cherished wish"- say the faithful of the area.
The community is made up of about 3,600 people, scattered across 14 villages divided into three broad mission areas: Daktut, six villages and about 2 thousand faithful; Dakchung with five villages and 500 faithful; Dakchong, with three villages and a thousand faithful. The living conditions are difficult and resources scarce, in order to survive the local population lives of the produce of the forest.
"Even today, the mission presents many difficulties" says Mr. Nguyen, one of the leaders of the Vuon Xoai parish committee, especially when it rains and "lack of food" and other primary goods is keenly obvious. However, there is still a great faith and a desire to participate in the life of the Church and the Catholic community.
Because of the long distance, the priests can celebrate Mass only once every two weeks. And it is precisely this absence of a more stable pastor that deeply saddens the faithful. "It would be nice to go to Mass every week - says Mary, a young woman from the mission of Dakchong - the lack of food does not bother us at all, because we know that we can trust in the Providence of God."
He words are echoed by Gabriel A Jun, who invites Vietnamese Catholics to live the experience of the mission in the area: "It is a source of joy and happiness - he adds - and a source of blessing for all."
The area of the central highlands of Vietnam includes the Diocese of Kontum, Pleiku, Ban Me Thuot, Qui Nhon and Da Lat. The few priests who cover such a vast territory must often face discrimination and obstacles from the government, despite efforts to bring practical assistance and spiritual comfort to people living in extreme poverty. The area is populated by the Montagnards, a mostly Christian minority, which has long claimed the right to religious freedom and land ownership in a peaceful manner. The authorities are often accuse them of separatism and opposition to the government: During the Vietnam War, in fact, the Montagnards, in an attempt to create an independent state, sided with the United States.