VATICAN INSIDER AND THE VATICAN’S COMMUNICATIONS REFORMATION – LATE VIETNAMESE ARCHBISHOP WAS A “PRIEST OF THE PERIPHERIES”

VATICAN INSIDER AND THE VATICAN’S COMMUNICATIONS REFORMATION

My guest this week on Vatican Insider is Chris Altieri, a former colleague at Vatican Radio. For years, you, my listeners, probably read Chris’ stories on the webpages of English Vatican Radio and heard his voice as he did wonderful commentaries for papal Masses and other events.

This weekend, in the first of two parts, we look at the reform of Vatican communications – what has happened so far, the low morale in the Vatican, what reform means for Vatican personnel in the communications area and what it means for people around the world who listen to a greatly changed Vatican radio – except we are not supposed to use that name anymore!

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. Outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

LATE VIETNAMESE ARCHBISHOP WAS A “PRIEST OF THE PERIPHERIES”

When I learned Wednesday morning of the sudden and tragic death in Rome a day earlier of the archbishop of HoChiMinh Ville (Saigon), Vietnam. I immediately thought of my very good friend, Msgr. Cuong Pham, who works in the Roman Curia at the Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts. I thought of Cuong because he is the first Vietnamese priest I ever knew and I was sure he knew all of Vietnam’s bishops.

Cuong was born in Vietnam but he is now a U.S. citizen. When he was studying in Rome and living at the Casa Santa Maria, part of the North American College, we met and became fast friends. His life story was so incredibly fascinating that I did a two- part interview with him for Vatican Insider – from the shores in Vietnam with the “boat people” to the shores of the United States to the doors of the Vatican! If his story, his family’s story, was made into a movie, it would be at the top of the charts for weeks!

I was blessed a few years ago to meet his parents and one of his brothers when they were in Rome and offered the hospitality of my home to meet these people who had become heroes to me.

When I was in Vietnam a few years ago, visiting both DaNang and Saigon, Cuong’s relatives and priest friends made my trip exceptional, unbelievably memorable. I’ll never forget our meals together, their help, their stories, their lives, especially the young men studying for the priesthood or those who had been recently ordained.

Something you should know, by the way: Vietnam is second only to the Philippines for the percentage of Catholics in the country. There is a very large Vietnamese presence in Rome including many priests, a number of seminarians and untold numbers of lay faithful.

In any case, after learning of Archbishop Paul Bùi Văn Đọc’s death, I sent Cuong an email to express my condolences to him and, through him, to all the bishops of Vietnam, including Cardinal Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon, archbishop of Hanoi, created a cardinal in 2015 by Pope Francis, the sixth cardinal ever from Vietnam. I briefly met the cardinal at the courtesy visits the afternoon of the consistory in which he became a cardinal and told him I had recently been to his country, but not to Hanoi.

The Vietnamese bishops have been in Rome this week on the mandatory “ad limina apostolorum” (to the threshold of the Apostles) visit all bishops must pay to Rome – usually every five years. During these visits, they meet with the Pope and visit various offices of the Roman Curia.

Here is a video of their meeting with Pope Francis on Monday. You will see the cardinal to the right of the papal chair and then you see the first person to greet Pope Francis and kiss his ring – he announces him name, saying he is the archbishop of Hochiminh Ville: https://www.romereports.com/en/2018/03/05/pope-francis-meets-with-bishops-from-vietnam/

This video was all the more poignant for me after a long phone conversation last night with Fr. Cuong.

I learned that, because he is one of two Vietnamese priests in the Curia, he was put in charge of arranging the entire ad limina visit for the Vietnamese bishops. Obviously he knows Vietnamese, English and Italian and is very familiar with the Vatican, its offices and Vatican City, as he is with the city of Rome. All of that served him well so he could serve the bishops well.

Cuong arranged for lodgings, transport to the Vatican and basilicas of Rome, and coordinated all the meetings with the Holy Father and various officials of the Roman Curia. Working at his own job in the legislative texts council in the meantime!

Because the late archbishop’s name was Paul, Fr. Cuong thought it would be a lovely experience for the Vietnamese prelates to celebrate Mass at the papal basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls and arranged for that to happen Tuesday morning.

It was during Mass, Cuong said, that everyone could see something was obviously very wrong with the archbishop, although he said he could finish Mass. A reception had been planned after Mass with the presence of hundreds of Vietnamese Catholics.

The vans that had brought the prelates to Mass were not parked close to the basilica so the archbishop was brought in a private car to San Camillo hospital, noted for its cardiac unit, where he died after three attempts to revive him when his heart stopped.

Fr. Cuong was at his side when he died. As we spoke last night, we both agreed how extraordinarily beautiful it has to be for a priest to die right after celebrating the Eucharist – after turning the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ!

Cuong told me he had eaten dinner with Archbishop Văn Đọc on Monday night and they were celebrating all the beautiful moments up to that point with the Holy Father and others in the Vatican. The archbishop was a contented person.

The archbishop is still at San Camillo hospital as I write, and Cuong is in the throes of dealing with officials at the Vietnamese embassy and in Italy to see to his transfer back to Vietnam. Hochiminh Ville diocese has two auxiliaries and, according to Canon Law, it would be the first appointed of the two to accompany the late archbishop back to Vietnam.

Fr. Cuong wanted me to know above all what an extremely wonderful priest and human being Archbishop Văn Đọc was.

“He was generous to a fault,” said Cuong. “He was a man of great empathy, of compassion, of mercy – a priest ‘of the peripheries’ as Pope Francis likes to say. The ‘least of these’ are the people he gravitated to, in particular orphans and those with disabilities. He was unique in so many ways and will be sorely missed. God rest his beautiful soul.”

Pope Francis invited Vietnam’s bishops to Mass in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence on Wednesday and shared some special time with them.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, secretary of State, will celebrate a memorial Mass in the Canon’s Chapel of St. Peter’s Basilica tomorrow, Saturday, March 10. A large number of Vietnamese faithful are expected to attend and there will probably be an overflow crowd as this lovely chapel (right across from the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in the basilica) cannot accommodate hundreds.

One Vietnamese bishop whom I do know but have not yet seen in Rome is Bishop Joseph Chau Ngoc Tri, now of Lạng Sơn et Cao Bằng, but he was the bishop of DaNang when we met. He was a wonderful guide, friend and host for a number of meals in his residence, just yards from the DaNang cathedral.

I have followed the cause for canonization of Fr. Vincent Capodanno for a number of years and have participated in events in Italy and in Vietnam where he died on a battlefield near DaNang on September 4, 1967, trying to minister to “his men” when he was a chaplain in the Navy. A celebration in DaNang was the reason for my first ever Vietnam trip.

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NEVER A DULL DAY IN THE LIFE OF A CORRESPONDENT…. – POPE APPROVES DECREES OF MIRACLES, MARTYRDOM, AND HEROIC VIRTUES – PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR QUAKE IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA – GENERAL AUDIENCE: THE EUCHARISTIC PRAYER, SPECIAL OLYMPICS AND “24 HOURS FOR THE LORD”

NEVER A DULL DAY IN THE LIFE OF A CORRESPONDENT….

What an interesting workday this has been! I did the commentary this morning for EWTN’s television coverage of the weekly papal general audience in the Paul VI Hall, and enjoyed being part of, so to speak, all the pre-catechesis moments when the Holy Father arrives, walks down the central aisle of the hall, meets the faithful, kisses babies, receives gifts from well-wishers including lovely drawings by children and a half dozen red roses from one group or family, and so on. There are also some lovely moments after the catechesis as well (today there large numbers of babies and toddlers!) but, unfortunately these less formal moments are generally not seen on TV. I followed them on the closed circuit TV in the studio and they were delightful.

Pilgrims gathered in both the Paul VI Hall and St. Peter’s Basilica because the weather has been so bad – rain non-stop for at least a week! – that it was deemed prudent to have the audience inside. There was indeed sun for a few hours but the blue sky quickly turned to gray and we’ve had rain all afternoon.

The commentary is done from a small radio studio where there is a flat screen TV and all the various electronics that link us to EWTN in Birmingham which, in turn, is linked to Vatican Television in Rome! There’s also a computer linked to a printer but I used my iPad and translated the papal remarks from the official text that arrived via email. Until the papal speech or homily arrives, the heart beats a bit faster because simultaneously translating what the Pope says, rather than having the official text, is not an easy chore.

There’s always a lot more than meets the eye when you turn on a radio or television to listen to or watch a program. If things go smoothly and seem well choreographed, it’s because a team of talented people – like the EWTN engineers and technical people – put their skills together to create a seamless tapestry. Kudos to the behind-the-scenes people!

As today is Wednesday I also have my usual weekly appointment with Teresa Tomeo on Catholic Connection that airs on Ave Maria and EWTN radio at 9:40 am ET (3:40 pm in Rome).

Today we spoke about the sudden and tragic death in Rome of the archbishop of Ho Chin Minh Ville (Saigon), Vietnam. The Vietnamese bishops have been in Rome this week on the mandatory “ad limina” (to the threshold) visit all bishops must pay to Rome – usually every five years. During these visits, they meet with the Pope and visit various offices of the Roman Curia.

Archbishop Paul Bùi Văn Đọc had a stroke yesterday morning while concelebrating Mass in the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the walls. He had met Pope Francis the day before with the other Vietnamese bishops.

Originally from Da Lat, he was consecrated bishop of My Tho by John Paul II. Pope Francis appointed him coadjutor archbishop of Ho Chi Minh in 2013. He served as the archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City from 2014 to 2018 and was president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam from 2013 to 2016. Born in November 1944, he was 73.

Teresa and I also spoke about the upcoming canonizations of Blessed Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador and three others (see story below). The only date that has been announced is the canonization Mass for Paul VI – that will be in October at the end of the Synod of Bishops. St. John XXIII was the first Pope I ever saw and Blessed Paul Vi was the first Pope I ever spoke to (I do not have a digital copy of the photos I took that day at Castelgandolfo – will have to remedy that).

Teresa spoke of the long and complex process for the creation – the recognition, really! – of Blesseds and Saints. I told her I was now a formal part of that process because several months ago I became an official member of the Brother Joseph Dutton Guild in the diocese of Honolulu. We are in the very initial, exploratory stages of his cause: these are the stages where you discover what the Vatican requires for a process to begin. What information do they need? How do we prove heroic virtues? What has the person said or written? All their works – their entire life – have to be studied. How is a postulator for the cause chosen? What are their attributes? This is just the nutshell version of the work laid out ahead of the Guild!

And the nutshell version of ‘Who is Joseph Dutton?” He worked alongside St. Damien and St. Marianne of Molokai for 44 years, spending the final 44 years of his long life in service to these two saints and to the patients of leprosy whom they served so lovingly and faithfully on the peninsular of Kalaupapa – Damien for 16 years and Mother Marianne for 30.

Longtime readers of this column know of my passion for Hawaii, for these saints and for this future third saint of Molokai. I first went to Hawaii and to Kalaupapa in 2008. I was a passionate newcomer to the story of Fr. Damien who was canonized in Rome in October 2009. During the 2008 visit I also learned of Mother Marianne – and just a bit about Brother Joseph – and I followed their stories right through my 2012 return visit to Hawaii and Marianne’s canonization in 2012.

I have been back to Hawaii every year since, in fact, twice last year as I was there in September on vacation (and participated in my first meeting with the Guild!) and returned to give a speech at the Hawaii Convention Center for the First Saints Damien and Marianne Conference.

At some point in the future I will bring you Brother Joseph Dutton’s story. By the way, he was not a religious brother: It was Fr. Damien who told him one day, “You are like a brother to everyone here, and that is what I will call you.”
And now, some news from the Vatican:

POPE APPROVES DECREES OF MIRACLES, MARTYRDOM, AND HEROIC VIRTUES

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints published the following decrees that Pope Francis authorized in a meeting with Cardinal Angel Amato, prefect of the congregation.

The five Blesseds named below will become Saints in future canonizations. Blessed Paul VI’s canonization has been announced for the end of the October Synod of Bishops in Rome. October is a traditional month for canonizations, and such ceremonies often also take place in the spring. (vaticannews.va photo)

– a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Paul VI (Giovanni Battista Montini), Supreme Pontiff; born in Concesio (Italy) on 26 September 1897 and died inCastel Gandolfo (Italy) on 6 August 1978;

— a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez, Archbishop of San Salvador (El Salvador), Martyr; born in Ciudad Barrios (El Salvador) on 15 August 1917 and murdered in San Salvador (El Salvador) on 24 March 1980;

— a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Francesco Spinelli, Diocesan priest, Founder of the Institute of the Sister Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament; born in Milan (Italy) on 14 April 1853 and died at Rivolta d’Adda (Italy) on 6 February 1913;

— a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Vincenzo Romani, Diocesan priest; born at Torre del Greco (Italy) on 3 June 1751 and died there on 20 December 1831;

– a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Maria Catherine Kasper, Foundress of the Institute of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ; born on 26 May 1820 in Dernbach (Germany) and died there on 2 February 1898;

Other decrees regarded miracles, heroic virtues and martyrdom for 8 Servants of God: http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2018-03/pope-francis-paul-vi-saints-miracle-martyrdom-heroic-virtues.html

PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR QUAKE IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Pope Francis sent a telegram expressing his condolences to the victims of the earthquake in Papua New Guinea through Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State.

It was with great sadness that His Holiness Pope Francis learned of the tragic loss of life following the recent earthquake in Papua New Guinea. Commending the souls of the deceased to the mercy of Almighty God, he sends his heartfelt condolences to their families, and he assures all those affected by this disaster of his closeness in prayer. Upon all those who mourn at this difficult time, and upon the emergency personnel involved in the important relief efforts, Pope Francis willingly invokes the divine blessings of strength and consolation. Cardinal Pietro Parolin

UNICEF reports that in Papua New Guinea approximately 270,000 persons need humanitarian assistance in the wake of last week’s earthquake. This number includes more than 130 thousand children.

Since the 7.5 magnitude quake, there have been about 100 aftershocks as well as another 6.0 magnitude earthquake on Sunday. An estimated 65 percent of Papua New Guinea’s health facilities remain closed and schools may remain closed for the duration of the school year due to the damage sustained. This was a week after a larger quake flattened villages and killed at least 55 people.

GENERAL AUDIENCE: THE EUCHARISTIC PRAYER, SPECIAL OLYMPICS AND “24 HOURS FOR THE LORD”

Pope Francis during his general audience on Wednesday continued his catechesis on the Mass, focusing his attention on the Eucharistic Prayer. Speaking off the cuff, he said, “one does not pay to go to Mass,” as “the Mass is the sacrifice of Christ which is free. If you want you can make an offering, but you do not pay.”

Pope Francis also said there were three approaches that should never be lacking in disciples of Jesus: the first is, learn how to give thanks, the second, to make our life a gift of love, and third, to build concrete communion in the Church and with everyone.

Speaking to the pilgrims in the Paul VI hall the Pontiff spoke in particular about the Eucharistic Prayer noting that “this central prayer of the Mass educates us, little by little, to make a “Eucharist” of our whole life, that is an action of grace ”

The Pope went on to say that, “in offering the bread and wine which become the body and blood of Christ, we unite ourselves to his sacrifice of reconciliation on the cross.”

As the memorial of the mystery of the Lord’s death and resurrection, the Pope added, “the Eucharistic prayer asks that we may be drawn, in the Holy Spirit, into communion with one another in the mystical Body of Christ, and united to the Son in his eternal sacrifice of praise and intercession before the Father.”

In conclusion, Pope Francis prayed that at every Mass, the faithful would “enter more fully into this “mystery of faith”, which brings the forgiveness of sin, builds up the Church in unity and prays for the reconciliation and peace of our entire human family.”

At the end of his Wednesday general audience, Pope Francis said sport can overcome disabilities and build bridges between peoples in his greetings to the International Paralympic Committee and all the athletes taking part in the winter games in the South Korean city of PyeongChang.

Noting that the city recently hosted the Olympic games, the Pope said that major sporting event showed how “sport can build bridges between countries in conflict, giving a valid contribution and perspectives for peace among peoples”.

He said the Paralympic Games are a further sign of the way in which sport can help overcome disabilities. He described the athletes are “an example for everyone of courage, tenacity and perseverance”, refusing to let themselves be held back by their limitations. Sport, the Pope said, is a school of inclusion, of inspiration for our personal lives and of commitment to transform our societies.

Pope Francis concluded with a greeting to the Paralympic Committee, to all the competing athletes and to all the Korean people. He assured them of his prayers that this event may encourage days of peace and joy for everyone. The Paralympic games are due to take place in PyeongChang from March 9th to 18th.

The Holy Father also noted that this Friday, March 9, in St Peter’s Basilica he will celebrate a penitential Lenten liturgy known as ‘24 hours for the Lord’. He said he hoped that churches would remain open in order to welcome all those wishing to prepare for Easter by celebrating the sacrament of Reconciliation and finding God’s mercy in this way.
(Vatiannews.va)

EWTN DOCUMENTARY HONORS FR. VINCENT CAPODANNO 50 YEARS AFTER DEATH – GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM! FINDING FAITH IN A FARAWAY LAND

Following this press release from EWTN, is a brief account of an amazing trip I took to Vietnam in June 2013 to the places where Fr. Capodanno lived and died. I re-count here, but only very, very briefly, some of my adventures as I wrote about them in my daily blog. I’d have done Facebook Live but it wasn’t around then! However, I posted a lot of videos on youtube.com/joansrome and many, many photos each day.  I hope you enjoy this!

EWTN DOCUMENTARY HONORS FR. VINCENT CAPODANNO 50 YEARS AFTER DEATH

Tonight, Wednesday, August, at 10:00 p.m. (EDST), EWTN will premiere an all-new film about Vietnam War hero and U.S. Navy Chaplain, Father Vincent R. Capodanno, M.M., Servant of God. The 90-minute film, Called and Chosen – Father Vincent R. Capodanno, explores the life of the Maryknoll missionary-turned-military-chaplain, who died at the age of 38 in Vietnam’s Quế Sơn Valley, administering the sacraments to embattled U.S. Marines and pulling the wounded to safety. Father Capodanno received the Medal of Honor posthumously on January 7, 1969, and the Holy See’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints is now considering whether to recognize him as a Saint.

EWTN will broadcast encore showings of the new film on Saturday, Sept. 2, at 3:00 p.m. (EDST), and on Monday, Sept. 4, at 3:00 p.m. (EDST).

Called and Chosen was filmed in New York and California under the direction of Mr. James Kelty, who has written and directed a number of films for EWTN, including the award-winning Kateri. Mr. Kelty will be among guests interviewed in the special EWTN Live which airs at 8:00 p.m. (EDST) the night of the premiere. Other special guests will be Mr. George J. Phillips, USMC (Ret.), Chairman of the Board of the Father Capodanno Guild, who served with Father Capodanno and whose testimony is also in the film; and Mrs. Mary Preece, Vice-Postulator of Cause of Father Vincent R. Capodanno. EWTN will air encores of this program on Thursday, Aug. 31, at 1:00 a.m. (EDST), and on Thursday, Aug. 31, at 9:00 a.m. (EDST).

“Not only was Father Capodanno a hero, he was one of those people who had charisma while still being a very humble person,” Mr. Kelty said. “People just wanted to be around him — everyone who knew him told me that.” According to EWTN, Called and Chosen is most riveting in the last hour of the film, which intersperses the testimonies of Marines who served alongside Father Capodanno with realistic battle scenes that put viewers in the heart of the action. Viewers see a Military Chaplain who went into battle – even though it wasn’t required of him – armed only with the weapon of his faith.

The premiere comes as the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS), prepares to observe the 50th anniversary of Father Capodanno’s death in 1967. On Sept. 5 at 6:30 p.m., His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, will celebrate the annual Mass on the anniversary of his death at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 400 Michigan Avenue, Northeast, Washington, D.C. The Mass will be concelebrated by dozens of priests from the AMS. Many of the surviving Marines who served with Father Capodanno, including Mr. Phillips, will participate, along with current senior military leaders and active-duty personnel.

GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM! FINDING FAITH IN A FARAWAY LAND

There are some journeys that, when you start to write a diary or some account, the opening words come easily.

After what I had hoped would be an uneventful flight from Rome to Frankfurt and then an overnight flight to my final destination (I experienced a 24 hour delay that I wrote about in a separate blog), I decided to introduce this trip and open this column with just the three-word title of a 1987 movie entitled “Good Morning Vietnam!”

It is Monday morning, June 10, 2013, and it is a beautiful day as I near Vietnam at the start of a journey that really is a pilgrimage, a journey to some very sacred places in this historic and magnificent Asian land. It is also a spiritual journey to places associated with Servant of God Fr. Vincent Capodanno, a Maryknoll priest and missionary who, in his brief life as a priest was also a much loved chaplain who was affectionately called “the Grunt Padre” by “his” marines in Vietnam  ……

FINDING FAITH IN A FARAWAY LAND

I have been in Vietnam for two and a half days and have had enough adventures to last a lifetime.  In those brief days I have met some of the loveliest people ever, the warm, hospitable, generous – and always smiling, it seems – Vietnamese.  The expression “they would give you the shirt off their back” is so true here.

Each day has seemed like two days, given the miles traveled, the people I have met, the events and Masses and so many things that fill the hours. Starting to write a travelblogue at 9 pm or later leaves little time for the length and depth I would like to offer about each place and person, so what I am unable to cover this week, I will bring you next week on these pages.

In the meantime, the best way to follow my daily adventures, to be at my side as I travel through the countryside, visit a shrine, see a UNESCO World Heritage site, attend Mass in a private home in a Vietnamese village or the DaNang cathedral, is to follow my YouTube page.  The videos tell the story, in the order in which I experienced events. They are brief and to the point and, I feel, allow you to share the culture and people I am experiencing.

To recap a bit: Monday, June 10 I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, met my friend Ted, a volunteer to promote the cause of canonization of Servant of God Fr. Vincent Capodanno, and we flew to DaNang in central Vietnam where we were met by a driver arranged by Bishop Tri (his own driver, to be honest). We drove to the Shrine of Our Lady of LaVang – a long drive not because the distance was great but because the speed limits here are very low, often not over 50 kilometers an hour. LaVang is the national shrine of Our Lady in Vietnam (more videos!).

We attended Mass, ate dinner at a small, local café-cum-souvenir store and stayed the night in the guest house, leaving at 5 am on Tuesday, June 11 for DaNang, passing through Hue, the fourth largest city in Vietnam where we stopped for breakfast at the lovely and historical Hotel Morin.

The rest of the day included checking in the hotel, lunch with Bishop Tri, visiting the cathedral, a nearby school, and other church property.

Wednesday, June 12, was a very long, very beautiful and faith-filled day. Ted and I visited a new church in a small village southwest of DaNang whose pastor said Mass in a home in another very small village near the battlefield where Fr. Capodanno died on September 4, 1967. Very often a priest can only come once a month to small villages to say Mass and today was a bonus for the visitors as the Mass was a special one to commemorate Fr. Capodanno, who is known by everyone here.

Mass was followed by an incredibly abundant lunch prepared and offered by the 68 faithful who came from neighboring villages.

The man in the middle knew Fr. Capodanno:

After Mass Ted and I were taken on motorbikes and then walked a bit to within a few hundred feet of the field where Fr. Capodano was killed on September 4, 1967. I did a video of that as well.

On our way back to DaNang, we stopped again at Xuan Dhanh parish to drop Fr. Andrew off, then proceeded to DaNang for our late afternoon meeting with the bishop and Sr. Catherine of the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres to talk about the liturgy for the Mass on Friday to commemorate Fr. Capodanno. I attended a very special Mass in the cathedral where the altar boys were marking the feast of their patron saint, St. Dominic Savio.

That was followed by a visit to Sr. Catherine’s convent, then back to the hotel for a quick meal before chatting with Teresa Tomeo on our weekly get-together, but at 8:40 DaNang time.

”AND THE LORD WAS WITH US THIS DAY”

As I write these words, it is 9 am on a hot Friday morning, June 14, in DaNang and I am in the courtyard of Sacred Heart Cathedral where the gates have been opened to welcome the bus loads of pilgrims from nearby and from far villages who have come today for Mass at 10 that Bishop Joseph Tri has organized to celebrate Servant of God Fr. Vincent Capodanno.

June 14th was the day, 55 years ago, that Vincent Capodanno was ordained to the priesthood in the Maryknoll order, a missionary order that sent him abroad during his short life as a priest. Eventually he became a chaplain and died giving the last rites to solders in Vietnam, not far from DaNang.

The courtyard is huge but I know it will soon be filled by scores of motorbikes and bicycles in addition to the buses – probably not a single car! For a while I sat on a stone bench next to a lovely sculpture of the Holy Family, listening to the hustle and bustle and horns of DaNang traffic outside the complex that comprises the cathedral, bishop’s residence, school rooms, church halls and the convent.

I videoed the Mass as well as taking a ton of photos.

With the terrific young choir who sang every song in English:

After Mass:

Following Mass, the cathedral offered a buffet lunch for about 400-500 people. It was astonishing hospitality and prepared by a group of women in the parish!! It was a ton of fun and I could have stayed and spoken to the people for hours, especially the wonderful, joyful, enthusiastic young people! I wanted to charter a plane and bring them to Rome!

This is not even the tip of the iceberg of what I wrote about Vietnam and all the places I visited while in this land. My final days were spent in Ho Chi Minh Ville (former Saigon). I’d love to have more time to post photos of the beautiful people of this land, of the scenery, the historic places, the flowers, the temples and churches, the food –but mainly the people.

 

POPE HIGHLIGHTS TWO SPIRITUAL WORKS OF MERCY IN GENERAL AUDIENCE – HOLY FATHER GREETS MUSLIM AND CHRISTIAN SCHOLARS

Today’s papal tweet: May the Holy Spirit help us to be patient when enduring, and to be humble and simple when advising.

From 5 to 6 pm today, Pope Francis will meet with President Trần Đại Quang of Vietnam, president of this Asian nation since April 2, 2016. The press office will be open until 7 this evening as journalists await a Vatican statement on the late afternoon meeting.

POPE HIGHLIGHTS TWO SPIRITUAL WORKS OF MERCY IN GENERAL AUDIENCE

Pope Francis held the weekly general audience in the Paul VI Hall and continued his recent series of catecheses on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. He told the faithful, “among the spiritual works of mercy, we now consider those of counselling the doubtful and instructing the ignorant.  These two works are related and both can be practised daily in our families and communities.

On counselling the doubtful, Francis said, “It is a true work of mercy to counsel those troubled by doubts about the meaning of life or shaken in their faith.  Let us be grateful to all who devote themselves to this work through catechesis and religious education.  All of us are called to support one another by our witness of living faith and generous concern, for these are eloquent signs of the love of God which gives meaning and direction to our lives.

He noted that, “Some might ask me: ‘Father, I have many doubts about my faith, what should I do? Don’t you ever have doubts?’ I have so many, so many… Everyone has doubts every once in a while! Doubts which concern the faith, in a positive sense, are a sign that we want to deepen our knowledge of God, Jesus, and the mystery of His love for us.”

“We should not make faith an abstract theory where doubts are multiplied,” added the Pope. “ Let’s make faith our life. Let’s seek to practice it in service to our brothers, especially those who are most in need. All these doubts disappear, because we feel God’s presence and the truth of the Gospel in the love that lives in us and we share with others.”

On education, the Holy Father explained that, “the Church’s mission of evangelization has always been accompanied by teaching and the founding of schools, since education promotes the dignity of the person and provides for the full development of his or her God-given gifts.  Illiteracy and lack of access to education are in fact a form of poverty and injustice.  Education develops our ability to think critically about ourselves and the world around us.  By raising questions it also helps us to find satisfying answers.”

Continuing on this topic, he said, “It is a condition of great injustice which stains the dignity of people. Without education, one easily becomes vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. It is unthinkable that, in a world where scientific and technological progress has reached such heights, there are still illiterate children. It is an injustice.”

HOLY FATHER GREETS MUSLIM AND CHRISTIAN SCHOLARS

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met in the Vatican on Wednesday with participants at a colloquium organized by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization from Teheran.

In brief words of greeting to the group, the Pope said he greatly appreciated the presence of those who had travelled from Iran to attend the meeting. He recalled with joy his meeting last January with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, as well as an encounter he had with the country’s vice president for women and family affairs, Shahindokht Mowlaverdi, who visited the Vatican with a group of female professors in February 2015. That visit, he said left him with a very positive impression of Iranian culture.

The Pope also underlined the importance of this 10th round of interfaith dialogue and fraternal encounter. He asked his guests to remember to pray for him and asked God to bless all members of the group.

During the two-day meeting, which concludes Wednesday, the Muslim and Christian scholars have been sharing perspectives on “Extremism and violence in the name of religion: the reasons of the supporters and perpetrators,” “Rational approach to religion: the sign of hope for wounded humanity”, and “Humanity and its common home; the contribution of religion for having a better world”.

The 9th round of this dialogue between the Pontifical Council and the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization was held in December 2014 in Tehran on the theme “Constructive Dialogue between Muslims and Christians for the Good of Society”