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Vietnam Archdiocese Opens up to Domestic Migrants

Migrants wave balloons welcoming Bishop Joseph Do Manh Hung to the migrant gathering in on Jan 7. (ucanews.com photo)

The Church in Saigon launched a campaign to give hundreds of thousands of Catholic migrants much-needed services.

Archdiocese in Southern Vietnam, home to millions of domestic migrants, plans to offer basic services to help them integrate into the local church.

Some 500 migrant workers and students attended the launch of Migration Week on January 7 at Don Bosco Youth Center in Saigon.

“You have to leave your homes to study and work in this city. It means you contribute to building the city so you become children of the local church and enjoy interests as local Catholics,” Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Do Manh Hung of Saigon City Archdiocese told the gathering.

Bishop Hung, head of the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, said the local church has a duty to receive, protect and integrate migrants into the local church and improve their lives.

Migrants have rights to join parishes, attend catechism courses, hold their marriage celebrations and funerals at churches, and take part in church activities.

The prelate said the city is home to 300,000 Catholic migrants.
He said the commission offers migrants online information on Mass schedules at churches, and addresses of hospitals, schools, boarding houses, and job centers. Migrants are also given legal advice.

During Migration Week, Catholic experts show migrants ways to look after their health, deal with family problems and conflicts at boarding houses, save money and seek jobs.

Paul Tran Anh Binh said he moved to the city ten years ago from Nghe An province. He said most migrant workers are poorly educated with no vocational skills so are easily exploited by company owners.

“We are grateful the local church is helping us on our journey and offering us necessary services allowing us to integrate with society,” he said.