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In Lent, the Catholics of Saigon Donate Blood


By Paul Nguyen Hung

Saigon (AsiaNews) – Also this year the parish of Hà Nội, in the archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), has prepared for Lent by organizing an event to promote blood donations. Held on 3 March in conjunction with Sunday Masses, the event attracted 142 participants.

In every church in Saigon, Catholics usually prepare for Easter by participating in numerous charitable initiatives, which take place throughout the Lenten period. In the pastoral letter published this year for the occasion, Msgr. Joseph ạ Mạnh Hùng – apostolic administrator of the archdiocese – renewed his invitation “to receive the sacraments, in particular those of penance and the Eucharist, pray and carry out social and charitable activities in the churches.”

Blood collection took place in the parish complex of Hà Nội, in the district of Gò Vấp. Thanks to Father Dominique Đinh Ngọc Lễ, it has been repeated for almost 30 years on the occasion of Advent and Lent. The priest has always paid particular attention to the pastoral care of the marginalized and every month he dedicates them support activities.

Peter Phạm Nhật Thanh, head of the parish catechists, says: “When I participated in the blood donation for the first time, I was afraid! But the second, I was braver. Since then, every time I give blood, I feel better. For this reason I often take part in this initiative, thanks to which it is possible to save the lives of people in the community.”

Among the donors of the church of Hà Nội there is also Fr. Joseph Nguyễn Ngọc Tuấn, Passionist priest. “When I was in the seminary, I was in contact with people living in remote and isolated regions. I feel great compassion for the misery and poverty that afflict ethnic minorities. Tribals need medical assistance. Therefore, I want to donate drops of my blood for the poor.”

The data reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) show significant increases in voluntary unpaid blood donations in Southeast Asian countries. However, the practice still remains a taboo in many social contexts. For this reason, the initiative of the parish of Hà Nội takes on significant significance in the eyes of the local Catholic and non-Catholic population.

Nguyễn Thị Bích Nương, president of the People’s Committee for the 13th constituency (included in the Gò Vấp district) illustrates the extent of his success: “The Committee’s data show that by 2019, 330 residents have donated blood to the district so far. Today, there are 142 donors in the Hà Nội parish alone. They are joined by the 66 people who last week agreed to be taken to the church of Nữ Vương Hòa Binh. This is a sign of hope.”