Our aspirant, Peter James Tian Peng (whom we used to call the Donkey Doctor when we wrote about him from the Mainland, and now to distinguish himself from Peter Chao and Piotr, he has added James to his name as he was born on July 25), has been with us in Kupang, NTT, Indonesia since July 14, and will be here until the end of August for the English Camp, first with the 17 professed students and, then, with the 35 aspirants and 29 postulants. Besides learning English, he is also learning what Claretian life and community are about, and how it is to live outside the “Middle Kingdom.” Here is the sharing he gave in the closing prayer session of our Camp with the professed students last August 1.
Present and Future Challenges.
Indeed, the biggest challenge for the Church of Vietnam is not the external persecution we may suffer. Persecution is always a part of the experience of the Church. As Jesus has said, “The world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world” (John 17:14). The biggest challenge comes from within the Church. First, the tradition of family-orientation seems to be shaken nowadays. Many youth have left their families and villages for various reasons like employment or education. They are somehow liberated and no longer feel bound by the tradition of the family and the village. Moreover, they are easily influenced by foreign cultures, especially the West. Our traditional values are rapidly being replaced by consumerism. This brings forth a lot of social issues. Even among the religious, consumerist attitudes undermine the vow of simplicity.
Each year on November 24, Vietnamese Catholics all over the world happily and proudly celebrate the feast of 117 Vietnamese Martyrs. These martyrs are just a few among about hundred thousand Vietnamese Catholics who have died because of their witness to their faith. Their blood is the seed of our faith. Indeed, the feast day of the Vietnamese martyrs is a good occasion for us to reflect how much love and grace God has poured upon the little Church of Vietnam. At the same time, it challenges us to live our faith in the world today.
The Church of Vietnam still stands until today in spite of continuing persecution. This is a concrete sign of the mercy and grace of God. In the Church of Vietnam, we have seen the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to Peter: “On this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the underworld will not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18). One may ask: “What makes the Church of Vietnam persevere on her pilgrimage?”
Brother Sid continues reporting from Sri Lanka on his experience as english teacher there; click HERE. He will continue with his original schedule and will go back to Spain on September where he will have the opportunity to visit Kiko's grave and share with his novitiate and formation companions.