Vietnam Christians told to focus on people, environment

Bishop Dominic Nguyen Van Manh of Da Lat presided over celebrations for the feast of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Thousand people attend an open-air Mass in the compound of the Pastoral Center in Da Lat on Sept. 1. (Photo: UCA News)

Published: September 02, 2022 10:30 AM GMT

Updated: September 02, 2022 10:51 AM GMT

The feast of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta was celebrated with an open-air Mass in the central highlands of Vietnam calling Christians to care for the people and environment.

Bishop Dominic Nguyen Van Manh of Da Lat, who presided over the special celebration held inside the compound of the Pastoral Center standing on a local hill on Sept.1, was joined by 22 priests and around 1,000 Caritas workers from parishes in the diocese that covers Lam Dong province.

Father John Bosco Hoang Van Chinh, director of Caritas in Da Lat, said they celebrated the feast to mark the season of creation that begins with the World Day of Prayer for the care of creation and concludes on Oct. 4 with the feast of Saint Francis.

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Father Chinh said the celebration aimed at encouraging local Caritas workers, whose activities were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, to keep high spirits.

Bishop Manh said the season of creation is a special time for all Christians to pray together and commit themselves to look after the earth, to care for the environment that is suffering from disasters caused by people’s lifestyles of extreme consumption and collective selfishness.

“This is a matter of justice, not charity. Nature has its rights and when it is exploited heavily, it shrieks but does not cry,” the 67-year-old prelate said.

Noting that Mother Teresa brought love and care to people abandoned by society, Bishop Manh called everyone to share their love with the poor and even Mother Nature.

The prelate appealed to the faithful to avoid single-use plastic and paper products, save water and power, and reuse instead of throwing away things.

He said Christian spirituality teaches people to live a moderate and simple life, be happy with small things, and welcome every moment as God’s gift and live it to the fullest.

A Caritas worker said he was delighted to attend such an outdoor Mass and feel close to the environment.

“You can love and respect nature only when you touch it yourself,” said a farmer who cultivates hectares of coffee and white mulberries for a living in the Lam Ha district.

Before the Mass, participants listened to talks about Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ and the environmental protection activities by local Caritas workers. They also watched cultural performances on St. Mother Teresa’s life and work.

This is only the second time that Caritas in Da Lat has held an open-air Mass. The first event was organized in May to mark Laudato Si’ Week, the seventh anniversary of Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical on creation care.

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