Thousands of Catholics in southern Vietnam have remembered their late archbishop as a source of joy on the first anniversary of his death.
Bishop Joseph Do Manh Hung, apostolate administrator of Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese, presided at an event commemorating the late Archbishop Paul Bui Van Doc at the archdiocese’s pastoral center on March 7.
Two cardinals, 11 bishops and hundreds of priests joined the special ceremony attended by 4,000 people including the late archbishop’s relatives.
Bishop Hung told the congregation that the face, voice and smile of Archbishop Doc remain vivid and affectionate among local Catholics. The prelate died of a stroke in Rome in 2018 while he and other Vietnamese bishops were visiting the Vatican.
Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh of Hue, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam, said the late archbishop, whose episcopal motto was “God is my joy,” chose joy for his life and put trust in God as the secret of his happiness.
Archbishop Linh said Archbishop Doc was appointed as bishop of My Tho in 1999 when people still lived in constant fear of a divided society and were haunted by suffering and consternation caused by wars.
“Choosing God as his joy in such a society showed that he wanted to warn the nation of lacking joy,” he said.
He said the late archbishop rekindled the light of life in a world of death and disappointment. He sought and shared the true joy of a good shepherd, of the Catholic Church, which is for all people regardless of their backgrounds, and of eternal life in heaven.
Archbishop Linh, who was one of Archbishop Doc’s students, said he was deeply impressed by his teacher, who always had a happy smile on his face and shared difficulties and challenges with seminarians.
“His life is a worthy testament to the local church and those who admire him. We are committed to following his examples of giving mercy missions to other people,” he said.
Mary Nguyen Thi Han from Mac Ty Nho parish said she admired Archbishop Doc as “a warm and friendly man.”
“I wish the local church will have many good shepherds like Archbishop Doc to strengthen our faith and bring joys to us,” the 81-year-old said.
Bishop Peter Nguyen Van Kham of My Tho said the local church had marked the anniversary by publishing a book on theology compiled by a Dominican priest and Archbishop Doc.
After the ceremony, Massgoers and local government officials offered incense in front of the late archbishop’s picture.