Ho Chi Minh City - Vietnam's Catholics experienced the 40 days of Lent by meditating, praying, making donations and raising funds for the poor. Now they are preparing for the rituals of Holy Week before the Easter of Resurrection. In particular, several meetings were organised by pastoral committees as well as lay, youth and family groups in the Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City.
"Lent is an ideal time to renew religious life and consolidate our faith and community ties," said Card Jean Baptist Phạm Minh Mẫn, archbishop of Saigon. "The sacraments and the Word of God" are the path to spiritual "renewal" and must be applied every day, he explained.
On Wednesday, the cardinal will celebrate Mass ahead of Easter festivities. Some 30 catechumens will be baptised on that occasion.
Across the archdiocese, parishes responded to his invitation by praying and showing their solidarity at meetings and fundraisers.
More than 500 people from Tân Sơn Nhì met at the Tân Việt parish church. Fr Joseph Maria, parish priest at Phú Trung promoted Lent meditations on the 'commitment of Vietnamese Catholics in society'. On 25 March, more than 300 members of Thủ Thiêm pastoral committee met at Long Thạnh Mỹ parish church to prepare Holy Week celebrations.
Other events of this kind were held at different centres in the archdiocese. Funds were raised to help the poor, the needy and children.
A Caritas official also gave US$ 2,700 to help some 70 leprosy patients and US$ 2,400 to buy food and basic items for 200 poor families.
Finally, on 23 and 30 March, hundreds of parishes held meetings and seminars in preparation for Palm Sunday and Holy Week. Scores of adults, students, youth and children participated.