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Vinh – “It is a day of great joy, a day of great blessing in the diocese of Vinh, which rejoices for 34 new ordained priests who will also be missionaries, where the Lord will call them to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel”: thus Bishop Alphonso Nguyen Huu Long, Bishop of Vinh, presented the solemn mass of priestly ordination which he presided over in the diocese of Vinh yesterday, July 25. As Fides learned, the Bishop noted: “We are living this moment of great happiness, in a time of great suffering in many parts of the world, especially while many people are fighting hard against the Covid-19 pandemic in Vietnam. This mass of presbyteral ordination should have been celebrated in the presence of all the priests of the diocese, together with many other religious, seminarians and faithful. We are living it in the presence of a small group, in the simplest way and in compliance with the precautionary protocols against Covid-19” . The new priests, the Bishop remarked, will be, precisely in this dramatic situation, like the “Good Samaritan”, bringing care and mercy to wounded hearts, and they will also be missionaries in remote places or even in three dioceses, where the Lord will call them to live.
“Evangelization – he recalled – is the task of every baptized person; the proper mission of every priest is to lead men and women to God in order to have the gift of salvation and eternal life”. Vinh is a diocese where there is an abundance of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. The Bishop recalled: “Priests are called to show their availability and happiness when they are sent for a pastoral service or for a mission in remote areas, in poor countrysides or in regions that are difficult to reach. The population in places of conflict, or where there are natural disasters or a high risk of contagion from a pandemic, really need the presence of priests to have material and spiritual comfort, help in overcoming pain, to receive hope”.
“The priests – said Mgr. Alphonso Nguyen Huu Long – are Apostles and were chosen by Jesus to work in his vineyard. Nowadays, in our world, it is not easy to find young people willing to give their lives to serve people in difficult and dangerous places. But the Lord continues to call young people ready to bring the seed of faith and the love of God to brothers and sisters in difficulty”. The Bishop then explained that he will send some priests to other dioceses in need of priests, sending them on mission “so that all the faithful can have good access to the Good News of the Gospel”. “In the context of the scarcity of priests, and while the population suffers severely from the pandemic and other causes, after a prayer discernment, I have decided to share half of these new priests with isolated territories, in other dioceses that lack priests. In particular, they will be ‘fidei donum’ in the diocese of Hung Hoa, in North Vietnam, which covers 10 provinces in mountainous and lowland areas with about 250,000 faithful but with a limited number of priests”. And he added: “In the diocese of Vinh we are blessed by God because he has given us so many priests and we are happy to share this precious gift with places where people desperately need a priest. We ask our new priests to dedicate their lives to service and to the glory of God until the rest of their lives, not worrying about where they will live, but only thinking about bringing souls to God”.
Turning to the new priests, he said: “You will show your love for God and your ardor, obtaining so many fruits of faith, saying in your heart: Lord, I come to do your will, we thank God who has given us 34 new priests, to bring the Good News, willing to care for the poor and vulnerable”. In this phase marked by the pandemic, the Catholics of Vietnam, in all dioceses, are working to provide for the essential, material and spiritual needs of the people in the quarantine areas and other people in need. Priests, religious and Catholic laity are volunteers to serve, on a pastoral and spiritual level, patients in Covid hospitals, considered a place of high risk of infection.