One of the brothers of the community visits Vietnam every year. Last November, he was invited to take part in a meeting for young adults held at Haiphong. The meeting brought together young people from the 10 dioceses of North Vietnam. There has never before been a meeting for so many people: the international exhibition centre outside the city had to be rented to welcome the 13,000 who took part in the main celebrations. The meeting came at the end of a whole year of preparation that was of course material but also spiritual preparation. Since these youth meetings began in North Vietnam, a large cross travels from one diocese to another and from one parish to another. This is the occasion for many meetings and prayers. The high point of the meeting was an evening of meditative prayer. This was an opportunity for many young people to experience a time of reconciliation.
The yearly visit that one of the brothers of the community has been making to Vietnam for many years enables him to be a witness to the vitality and the creativity of the Church.
Since the previous visit to Saigon, a pastoral centre has been opened, making it possible for young lay people to come there in the evenings to pursue a theological and spiritual formation. A “house of the tradition” also opened in the grounds of St Joseph’s Seminary. One of the old buildings has been completely renovated and now shelters many objects and documents that tell the story of the evangelization of the country. Everything has been set out to create awareness and understanding of a history that has deeply marked the Church of Vietnam. A group of artists are committed to continuing and supplementing this project, which was started many years ago by a professor of the seminary who collected most of the objects on display.
On the first floor, several rooms are devoted to religious art, not only ancient but modern as well. Taken together, these works of value create an atmosphere of great beauty and a climate which opens the viewer to God. In the completely renovated chapel, 150 to 200 young people come together every Tuesday for a meditative prayer inspired by Taizé.
The visit to Hanoi took place this time during the commemoration of the 116 Vietnamese martyrs. Here too we can understand the importance of history and of culture, and how much faith is rooted in them. On the evening of November 25, a very fine presentation brought together several hundred people to look and to listen to a dramatization of the life of the martyrs, with each religious congregation evoking it from a different angle. One of the high points was the death of the only woman; a young mother who died rather than disown her faith. Each section was interspersed with songs or with interviews of young people who spoke of how they are living their faith in everyday life.
The evening went on late and ended with half an hour of meditative prayer with songs from Taizé. In a few moments the young people had transformed the hall into a sanctuary, with great silence, the word of the Gospel, and meditative songs. In the centre was the beautiful cross of red wood that had already been used for the meeting for young people; half an hour of peace…