A comprehensive community building program in Vietnam is at the heart of Catholic Mission’s World Mission Month in 2017, which will be launched by Bathurst Bishop Michael McKenna this week in Mudgee.
Sister Mary Hoaian (pictured) and the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who are based in the coastal mountain diocese of Nha Trang, are the focus of this year’s World Mission Month appeal.
The Sisters run a multifaceted program for local communities in their diocese, including in Xuan Son, where their activities include kindergarten education, scholarships for older children, nutrition, health and wellbeing, medicines and a clean water program.
Catholic Mission’s National Director, Father Brian Lucas, says the Sisters’ challenge to minister in a Vietnamese community is immense. ‘Under the communist government in Vietnam, Church activities are limited to within the walls of the church itself,’ he says.
‘What the Sisters are doing is extraordinary under the circumstances, as they reach out to Vietnam’s forgotten farming families living in isolated communities like Xuan Son,’ Father Lucas says. ‘One third of the children living in these communities suffer from stunted growth and other birth defects due to polluted water and malnutrition.’
Throughout World Mission Month in October, the appeal will specifically raise funds for the various aspects of the Sisters’ program, including a new water filter for the kindergarten and pastoral centre from where the program is operated.
‘Even though there is a water filter on site, it is not adequate to ensure safety and cleanliness,’ says Father Lucas. ‘The Sisters are urgently seeking to install a larger capacity water filter, which will provide fresh, clean water for the entire community.
‘The appeal’s theme, from John 4:14, “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give will never thirst again” is entirely fitting for the work of missionaries to quench both the physical and spiritual thirst of communities around the world.’
‘Pope Francis tells us the Church’s mission to all people is based on the transformative power of the Gospel,’ says Father Lucas. ‘There is a transformative power for the people of Xuan Son through the actions of Sister Mary and the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.’
St Matthew’s Catholic School in Mudgee, in the New South Wales diocese of Bathurst, will host the annual diocesan launch on Thursday, September 7. Bishop McKenna will lead the celebration and present this year’s Primary Schools’ Christmas Art Show Awards.
For more information on the appeal, including the video ‘Mission at the Heart’, please visit http://catholicmission.org.au/wmm/2017-world-mission-month.
With thanks to Catholic Mission.