Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

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Vietnamese See Eucharist As Strengthening Family Life

By SUZANNE HAUGH, Special To The Bulletin | Published June 21, 2007

There was little floor space available in International Salon 5 as people gathered for the Vietnamese track on June 9 to glean new insights on “the spirit of Vietnam.”

A few young children were sprinkled among the crowd that lined the walls and took seats to listen to two notable speakers: Father Joseph Hoang Minh Thang, producer of Vatican Radio’s Vietnamese program and of Radio Veritas in Manila, and Father Joseph Tien Loc Nguyen, chaplain of the Boy Scout Movement and a well-known presenter of retreats and renewals held around the world.

“It was wonderful to get them,” said Msgr. Francis Pham Van Phuong, Vicar for Clergy and pastor of Our Lady of Vietnam Church in Riverdale. “Both of them are talented, so good and eloquent when speaking.”

Few stirred but to smile or laugh at times as they listened intently to Father Thang who focused on Jesus’ sacrificial love shown in the Eucharist.

Msgr. Phuong explained the choice of the track’s topics. “For the Vietnamese, it’s important to represent the topics of Jesus and his sacrificial love in the Eucharist and the sacrificial love in the family and in the sacrament of matrimony, and (to present) a picture in the modern world of the love of Jesus in the family, especially.”

He added, “The people approaching marriage should see the Eucharist as supporting their love and the sacrifices that come with raising a family.”

Father Loc focused on the importance of devotions that are cherished by the Vietnamese community. While there was little need for the priest, who lives in Vietnam, to spend time discussing the current political or social conditions there since Vietnam is communist but “open,” he did touch on the “spirit of Vietnam” and Vietnamese culture portrayed especially in devotions to the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Mother, as well as the respect for elders.

“There is a great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament that helps the family raise children,” Msgr. Phuong explained. “The family tradition is to respect the authority of the father and mother. They and their children are united under the love of the Eucharist.”

When all came together, Msgr. Phuong estimated the crowd of Vietnamese adults and children to be about 400.

Understanding that the room would not accommodate everyone, those mostly present for the Vietnamese track were those who had more difficulty with English. He hopes next year to have a larger gathering space to accommodate all of the Vietnamese adults, as he encourages the younger children and teens “to mingle with the American children.”

“The Vietnamese children don’t have any problems dealing with English. Many can’t speak Vietnamese and enjoy being with the American children,” said Msgr. Phuong, who also commented on the great display of unity shown throughout the day.

“We talk about the diversity of the diocese, of the church. The Catholic Church is called ‘catholic’ because we come from every background, every ethnic group, every people, so when we gather, we are one in Christ, especially when we receive Communion.”

He continued, “We are one. We can see it by our eyes when we see the many, many races, the many ways of adoring and serving the Lord. It’s obvious that all the people enjoy making the church much stronger, much represented by the many groups.”