National congress at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Hue.
Marian association calls on faithful to lend material and emotional support to people in need
Thousands of members of a Marian association based in Vietnam have been called on to promote Marian devotion among followers of other faiths as a way of evangelization at its gathering.
Six thousand devotees from the Our Mother of Perpetual Help, a Catholic association led by Redemptorists, attended their national congress 2022 on Aug. 3-4 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Hue, capital of Thua Thien Hue province.
Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh of Hue presided at the opening Mass of the congress with the theme “Together with Mary, we set out,” joined by 30 Redemptorist priests.
“The congress is a wonderful opportunity for us to look back on our practical experience of meeting Mother Mary and promise to spread Marian devotion among other people,” Archbishop Linh said.
The head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam urged them to go out with Mother Mary to find peace in their life and commit to lending material and emotional support to people in need.
The prelate said Vietnamese people are passionately devoted to Mary who saved their ancestors from religious persecution and still continues to perform miracles for the faithful and followers of other faiths.
He said many people of other faiths make pilgrimages to Lourdes in France and many of them also were present at the congress to seek comfort from Mother Mary. They were attracted by good examples from association members.
Therese Bui Thi Hon from An Chau parish in An Giang province said she recites 10 Hail Marys daily in front of an Our Mother of Perpetual Help at her home to pray for her family.
Long Xuyen diocese is home to 400 Our Mother of Perpetual Help members.
Hon, who sells cakes for a living, said her business was slack during the pandemic and people offered her family food to survive. Mother Mary is credited for healing her heart problem thanks to her fervent prayers.
The 69-year-old said she also introduces Marian devotion to her neighbors who follow Hoa Hao, an indigenous Buddhist sect, and they trust in the blessed Mother.
Martha Doan Thi Thanh Tung from Dien Phuc sub-parish in Quang Binh province said her group gathers to recite the rosary at their homes on Wednesday evenings and at the local church on Saturday evenings. Ha Tinh diocese has 1,000 association members.
Tung, 45, said group members voluntarily clean houses of old people without relatives, offer food to poor hospital patients, and work with drug and alcohol addicts and gamblers. They also bring many people who ignore faith practice to their church through their apostolate activities.
Father Joseph Nguyen Ngoc Bich, provincial superior of the Redemptorists, said the event was a good time for them to express their deep gratitude to God and Mary for saving them from the two-year Covid-19 pandemic as many members died from the coronavirus.
Father Bich said they should thank one another for having shared loving care and food with one another during the prolonged pandemic.
He said many devotees traveled far by bus and arrived at the church the previous days so that they could attend the congress and be appreciative of Mary’s graces.
“I believe that all people who come here get divine grace,” he said.
During the two-day congress, devotees in traditional clothes listened to talks on Mother Mary, attended Masses, offered flowers to a Marian statue, carried the statue around the church, recited the rosary, and watched cultural performances.
Local parishioners offered them free food and accommodation.
The Our Mother of Perpetual Help Association was established in Hue in 1932 by the Redemptorists. The group was disbanded after the country was reunified under communist rule in 1975 and has resumed its activities in recent decades.
The Marian congress takes place every three years and this has been the third since it was resumed in 2015.