• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

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    谷 16:15

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    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐
    圣福若瑟神父

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    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

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    圣杨生•爱诺德神父

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    1 Cor. 14:4

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    若 1:14

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    1 Kor 12:4

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Monday, 28 May 2018 16:56

New era for Vietnamese migrant ministry in Thailand

Anthony Le Duc SVD Vietnamese migrant chaplaincy 450Fr Anthony Le Duc SVD loves his ministry with Vietnamese migrants in Bangkok, not only because he is able to serve these people on the margins and be part of their lives, but because he is also able to be a bridge to connect them with the larger church and the society in which they live.

Chaplaincy to Vietnamese migrants has recently moved from a volunteer ministry to one formally recognised by the Catholic Bishops of Thailand, a move he says which makes the ministry more systematic and effective.

“I started engaging in Vietnamese migrant ministry soon after I came to Thailand in 2007,” says Fr Anthony, who was born in Vietnam, but grew up as a migrant in the United States of America.

“When I moved to North-East Thailand in 2008, I continued to engage in the ministry there, even as I was taking care of the local parish assigned to me by the Diocese.“When I moved back to Bangkok in 2013, I continued to do this ministry while also doing other work.”

Fr Anthony says that prior to December last year, the Vietnamese migrant ministry in Thailand was done by priests and religious from various congregations on a voluntary basis.

“We formed a Vietnamese Catholic Association in Thailand and organised ministry on our own,” he says. “We looked for churches where the pastor was welcoming of Vietnamese ,migrants and permitted the celebration of Vietnamese language Mass and other activities there.”

By 2017 there were almost 20 different groups of different sizes throughout Thailand, with 11 of them in the Bangkok Archdiocese alone. All of this was done with the knowledge of the local church authorities, but the ministry was not ‘official’ insofar as it was not part of the overall pastoral plan of the local church.

Fr Anthony says all of that changed in late 2017 when the Catholic Bishops Conference of Thailand decided to establish a Pastoral Committee on Vietnamese Migrants. The Committee is headed by a Thai priest of Vietnamese ancestry and members of the Committee would include both Vietnamese and Thai priests, with the ministry itself mostly carried out by Vietnamese priests. Each priest would be responsible for a diocese.

“I was asked to be responsible for the Dioceses of Chanthaburi and Surat Thani. Fr John Hung Le SVD has been asked to be responsible for Ratchaburi Diocese,” Fr Anthony says.“Other dioceses are under the responsibility of priests from other congregations, such as the Dominicans and Redemptorists.”

Vietnamese Catholic group in Chonburi Province 350Fr Anthony says the recognition from the bishops has helped put the migrant ministry on stronger ground.

“While the nature of the ministry is essentially the same, the official assignment and division of responsibility has helped make the ministry more systematic and effective,” he says.

“There is a better understanding overall that ministry for Vietnamese migrants is a part of the pastoral outlook and agenda of the Thai Church, which needs to be supported by Church leaders at all levels.”

Fr Anthony says that while the work carried out by Vietnamese migrant chaplains in Thailand varies, the celebration of the sacraments is first and foremost.

“All who are engaged in this ministry provide sacramental ministry, especially Eucharist and Confession,” he says.

“Since I have fluency of Thai language and a good grasp of local laws, I also provide support in other issues faced by Vietnamese migrant workers, especially when there are tragedies such as illness, accidents or death.

“I also use my credibility in the community, both among Catholics and non-Catholics, to provide important information that concerns their livelihood.”

Fr Anthony says he loves his ministry among Vietnamese migrants in Thailand and is excited to see the migrant chaplaincy receiving more recognition in the wider Church.

“What I like most about the migrant ministry is not just that I am able to serve the people on the margins, getting to know them well, and being a part of their lives, but that I am able to serve as the bridge to connect them with the larger Church, the larger society and culture in which they live and work,” he says.

“Conversely, I also help the local church to see, understand and also value the Vietnamese migrant workers for the gifts that they bring to the local church.

“My intention is not to do the migrant ministry simply for the sake of the migrants, but also for the sake of the whole Church, which is called to be ‘mother’ to all, as Pope Francis has emphasised.

“From all the efforts that I and other priests and religious have put in during the last 10 years or more, we are finally able to see  this connection taking place.“We are also now seeing more acceptance, welcoming and inclusion of Vietnamese migrants in the life of local parishes.”

 

PHOTOS

Top Right: Fr Anthony Le Duc SVD engaged in chaplaincy to the Vietnamese migrant community in Thailand.

Bottom Left: Fr Anthony with members of the Vietnamese Catholic group in Chonburi Province, 100lm from Bangkok.

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