By Hien Nguyen
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 3 May 2021 -- On 27 April 2021, the Salesian Family in Vietnam bid eternal farewell to one of their members, Salesian Cooperator, Ms. Tran Thi Minh Thu (68 yrs). She was the first born of a non-Catholic family with another 2 younger brothers and 7 sisters. After searching for the true religion and learning about Catholicism, she was baptized Catholic in 1974 and became a zealous member of a local parish in Ho Chi Minh-Vietnam.
Since 2002, helping in some youth activities animated by a young Salesian theology student, she was introduced to the vocation of the Salesian Cooperators. In 2005, Ms. Thu made the promise to become an official member of the Association of Salesian Cooperators. Even though she was not strong physically with congenital heart disease, she was able to get more and more involved in the Salesian charism and missions with specific services to the poor youth and responsibilities entrusted to her by the Association. She was elected to the Provincial Council of the Association as Secretary for 3 terms (2008-11; 2011-2014 and 2014-17). In 2017, she was elected as the Provincial Coordinator (2017-20). In her role, she took care of the growth of the vocation of the Salesian Cooperator in quality and quantity, with a formation course as well as encouraging younger members. The Salesian Cooperators in Vietnam became more integrated in the Regional and Worldwide dimension. In particular, she worked very hard with her Council to prepare for the EAO Regional Congress of Salesian Cooperators in Vietnam (supposedly to be held in July 2020), estimated to host 700 Cooperators from 22 countries and involving more than 300 volunteers. Everything was ready for the Congress until the Covid explosion put a stop to it all. Her health declined quickly and finally she has returned to her heavenly home after months of hospitalization.
All Salesian Delegates for the Salesian Family, many Salesian priests and brothers, FMA sisters and numerous Salesian Cooperators from 17 local centers and many young people were present at the Vigil prayer sessions and masses to pray for her eternal rest. They bore witness to her dedication to the Salesian Cooperator Association, the poor youth she helped out during her life on earth as a daughter of God and member of the Salesian Family.
At the funeral Mass at which the Provincial presided and with many Salesian priests concelebrating, she was presented as the exemplary Salesian Cooperator for the participants: a responsible citizen (working in one government department until her pension with exemplary records) and a good Christian in a country still to be evangelized (she did help her parents to be baptized in their old age as well as 4 other siblings and helped many other people become Catholic). As a Salesian Cooperator, she mentored and accompanied many young people on their journey to become good citizens and devout Catholics.