FMA Vietnam, 1 March 2022 -- With the conviction that “the missionary dimension is an essential element of the identity of the FMA Institute” (cf. HL FMA, no. 75), and to help the sisters nourish their spirit and open more to new visions of the mission of evangelization, every year Mary Help of Christians province in Vietnam celebrates the Missionary Animation Day at the provincial level. This year, due to the upheaval of the Covid pandemic, the Province hosted this Day on 26 February 2022 with the theme: “150 Years of the FMA - Missionary Synodality”.
On the evening of 25 February 2022, the sisters gathered at the Provincial house to attend Vespers. In the good night talk, Sr. Maria Hoang Thi Thu Ha, the Provincial, invited the sisters to join in an online missionary trip to Laos through a video introducing the presence and mission of FMA Vietnam in Laos over the past 11 years.
On the morning of 26 February 2022, the sisters attended Lauds and Mass celebrated by the Salesian Vice Provincial, Fr Joseph Nguyen Kim Khanh, SDB. The thanksgiving was for the 150th Anniversary of the FMA Institute and its development on five continents through the footsteps of the missionaries.
At 8 am, the program started with loud applause to welcome Sr. Maria, the Provincial, the provincial Councilors, the Community Animators, sisters, and guests of the program: Fr. Dominic Tran Xuan Thao – the former Director of the Sector of Evangelization of Xuan Loc diocese, Sr. Maria Tran Thi Nha - the sister of the Institute of Holy Cross in Hung Hoa diocese, and a couple - Mr. Louis Nguyen Van Quang and Mrs. Anna Phan Thi Thu – the Evangelical group of Xuan Loc diocese.
The program started with a statement of purpose from Sr. Maria Thuy Nga – the Coordinator of the Missionary Sector of the Province. She said that the theme chosen for the missionary day expressed the desire of the Province to be in tune with the Church in the atmosphere of the World Synod of Bishops: Towards a Synodal Church: Communion - Participation – Mission as well as in response to the call of the FMA Institute after the 24th General Chapter: the FMAs are called to embrace missionary synodality as a way of life.
Next, the sisters together were back to the source, to Mornese, Italy - the first FMA home nourished by a vivid missionary atmosphere through the illustration of the “pace of evangelization in the early time of the Institute”.
Then an address by Sr. Maria, the Provincial, helped the sisters see the missionary face of the Founders. Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello were true missionaries. She invited the sisters to express the missionary spirit through the attitude of living “Vado Io” – “yes I go” in every situation and duty entrusted.
After that, came sharing from Fr. Dominic, Sr. Maria Nha and Mrs. Anna Thu to help the sisters touch the realities of evangelization in Vietnam: the 84-year-old priest's heart, despite his age, still burns with the fire of proclaiming the Good News; the young sister of the Institute of Holy Cross in Hung Hoa is enthusiastically taking care of the mission with many initiatives to train missionary volunteers of the H'Mong ethnic group so that they themselves bring the Gospel to Dien Bien mountainous place; the lay couple wholeheartedly dedicated themselves to missionary work, ready to leave their home for villages where there are still many non-Catholics in Xuan Loc diocese, etc… What they heard aroused the sisters’ admiration and a desire to be more committed to the mission of evangelization.
The program continued with a review of the "pace of evangelization in the Covid pandemic" of the Church and the Province which expressed the missionary synodality of everyone. The sisters listened to some experiences of the sisters who served the patients of the Covid pandemic through the sharings of Sr. Teresa Kim Duyen, FMA. In fact, the love gave them the courage to go forth as missionaries in the new frontiers of today.
The program ended at 11.30 am with the departure ceremony. The sisters boarded “the missionary boat” to place symbols of their feet on the continents on the world map, expressing their determination to pray and their desire to commit themselves to that land. The Missionary Animation Day ended with the hope that the missionary spirit will always be strong and alive in every Daughter of Mary Help of Vietnam.
Then, the sisters expressed their gratitude to Sr. Maria – the Provincial, the Community Animators and the guests. May this rendezvous appointment help us more definitely convince ourselves on our missionary identity and courageously commit ourselves to the mission field where still there is the need of so many holy and skilled apostles.