London (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Vietnamese Catholic community in London gathered for a vigil and a Mass in memory of their 39 fellow citizens who died in the refrigerator truck found on October 23 in an industrial park in Essex.
More than 100 people took part in the liturgy at the Church of the Holy Name and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, in east London, presided over by Father Simon Nguyen. The priest recalled how the 39 lost their lives “seeking freedom, dignity and happiness”.
Bishop Nicholas Gilbert Erskine Hudson, auxiliary bishop of Westminster also presided at Mass in suffrage yesterday. The prelate asked the faithful to pray for human traffickers.
Four days ago, British authorities confirmed that the corpses discovered in south-east England are all Vietnamese. At first, the police thought they were Chinese citizens. “We show our condolences and sympathies for people who have lost their lives on the road in search of freedom, dignity and happiness,” said Father Nguyen. “We ask God to welcome them into his kingdom, even though some of them were not Catholic, but they strongly believed in eternal peace, so we pray for them.”
At the end of the service, the priest explained: “The people here are very united in pain because we are all refugees. All those present, most of them Vietnamese came here as refugees in the ‘70s and the ‘80s and the ‘90s.”
Father Nguyen pointed out that in recent decades, the disappearances of migrants originating in Vietnam “have not been reported by the media, but many have died” in an attempt to reach the United Kingdom. “These victims [who died in the lorry last month], this tragedy, was reported but many tragedies to the Vietnamese no one [knows about],” he said.
Bishop Hudson began Sunday Mass with the projection of a video: the shots showed the moments when the authorities removed the bodies from the truck. After a minute of silence, the bishop asked the assembly to pray for relatives of community members who could be among the dead and for emergency service personnel on the scene. Finally, Bishop Hudson called for prayers for the traffickers, in the hope that “this tragedy has changed their hearts.”