On January 18, 2014, the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in Vietnam opened a jubilee year to celebrate 400th anniversary of Christian evangelization in Vietnam.
The solemn mass was celebrated at 8:30 a.m. at the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City, presided by Archbishop Paul Bùi Văn Đọc, coadjutor archbishop of the archdiocese and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam. Concelebrants included archbishops of the archdioceses of Huế and Hà Nội; bishops of Lạng Sơn, Bắc Ninh, Kon Tum, Ban Mê Thuột, and Cần Thơ; auxiliary bishops of Xuân Lộc and Ho Chi minh city; nearly a hundred priests of the Jesuit Province of Vietnam and other religious and dioceses. Thousand of people who are friends, collaborators, and benefactors of the Jesuits in Vietnam gathered for this celebration. Before the mass was celebrated, The Jesuit Provincial, Fr. Joseph Phạm Thanh Liêm, announced the Decree (Prot. N. 838/13/I) issued by the Holy See’s Apostolic Penitentiary to allow the Jesuits to celebrate this jubilee year in celebrating and for receiving plenary indulgence.
In his homily, Jesuit bishop Cosma Hoàng Văn Đạt, bishop of Bắc Ninh and general secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam recalled: Four centuries ago, on January 18 in 1615, two Jesuit Fathers Francesco Buzomi and Diogo Carvalho, and a Brother, Antonio Dias, arrived at central port of Cửa Hàn, which is now called Đà Nẵng, beginning their Christian evangelization in Vietnam. Their adaptation and integration into the local cultures enabled them to evangelize the Gospel and contribute to history of this nation in many valuable ways. They opened the pathway for later generations of the Jesuits’ mission and sowed the seeds of the Gospel in Vietnam. Bishop Cosma reminded that on this day, the Jesuits and the Church also celebrate the birthday of the diocese of Đà Nẵng and her parish in Hội An. Therefore, the Gospel proclaimed in this liturgy affirms us that the start of Gospel comes from the loving heart of our God who wants to save us and give us eternal happiness. This is what the Lord asks each one of us to evangelize for all peoples. This is an invitation but also a challenge for not only the Jesuits but also for all Christians. The bishop also admitted that in the past 400 years, many other missionaries and lay people had contributed greater parts for evangelization in Vietnam even sacrificed their lives for their faith. The gift of faith that 117 Vietnamese holy martyrs modeled for us fidelity we should have for God and the Church.
Before giving final blessing, Archbishop Paul Bùi Văn Đọc addressed his cheerful greetings to the Society of Jesus. The archbishop echoed Pope Francis’s recent interview on La Civilta Cattolica to invite everyone dare to dialogue with others, pioneer and build bridge [for dialogue], and to discern how the Holy Spirit is leading our lives.
The liturgical celebration ended joyfully, opened a jubilee year for all Jesuits in Vietnam and those who have known and been supportive of Spirituality of Saint Ignatius Loyola and the mission of the Society of Jesus to gratitude, renew and reignite the spirit of evangelization.
Nguyên Vũ, SJ