Authorities in Son La in Vietnam, a province that historically refused to recognize religious activities, has given approval to the establishment of a Catholic parish that has been in existence in the area for 30 years.
Moc Chau Parish in Son La in the northwest of Vietnam is the first parish in the province to be officially approved and recognized by the government in the region. The territory has currently eight Catholic parishes.
The Catholic community in the area started in 1991 when the faithful would gather to sing Christmas carols and recite prayers during special occasions.
In 2005, Bishop Anthony Vu Huy Chuong visited the Catholic faithful in the area and later started to talk with local officials for the recognition of the community.
Priests also started to visit the community and hold regular religious services, especially on Sundays.
On November 6, Bishop Peter Nguyen Van Vien, apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Hung Hoa, led the celebration of the Holy Eucharist to mark the official recognition of the parish.
In his homily, the prelate spoke of God’s providential work in guiding the parish through the years.
“All things must be according to His plan. Even when implementing that plan sometimes does not go according to our wishes,” said the prelate.
He stressed “trust, thanksgiving, and execution” of God’s plan in Christian communities.
“Trust because we need to have faith in each other. Trust in God’s providence. Thank you that we are a privileged creature with so many blessings from God. We need to build a culture of thanksgiving like any other. Practice because we need to do God’s will,” said the bishop in his homily.
The bishop also mentioned the “ups and downs” of the formation of the parish. “It took a lot of work from many people, including priests, religious men and women, and lay people,” he said.
“Although facing difficulties in their religious life, that does not prevent pastors from coming to the flock,” he said.
He said the parish, which was formally established in 2015 by Bishop Tat, owed its existence to priests, religious, and the local people who stood strong in their faith.
Bishop Vien appointed Father Joseph Nguyen Cong Binh as the first parish priest of Moc Chau. Father Binh has served Moc Chau since 2018.