|Some of the ill people from Xuan Loc Diocese attending a special Mass to celebrate the World Day of the Sick at Lo Duc Church on Feb. 11. (ucanews.com photo)|
Catholics at a parish in Vietnam came on stretchers and wheelchairs to celebrate Mass and receive a special blessing on the occasion of World Day of the Sick.
The crowd at Lo Duc Church in Bien Hoa City was so big that Mass being celebrated was telecast on monitors outside the church for people unable to find a place in church. Everyone was able to hear Bishop Joseph Dinh Duc Dao of Xuan Loc as he asked the sick to offer their suffering to God. "The whole diocese would like to share and sympathize with your great suffering," said Bishop Dao.
Some 1,500 patients, elderly and those with disabilities were among 4,500 people who attended the event on Feb. 11.
"You should offer your misery like a sacrifice of love to crucified Jesus to bring salvation and mercy to numerous people who have abandoned themselves and fight against God. God needs your cooperation to save people," said Bishop Dao.
He asked patients to turn their frailties into happiness to feel God's love and get close to Him because He does great things people cannot do.
He also urged patients' relatives, health workers and volunteers "to create an atmosphere of love" to comfort patients. He also told patients that their carers are a source of "happiness, consolation and hope."
During the Mass, Bishop Dao blessed and handed out rosaries to the ill as gifts. The sick also received milk, cake and sugar and watched songs and dances performed by local Catholics.
Nguyen Thi Lanh, who has a tumor on her neck, stood at the gate of the church to meet Bishop Dao. "I am really happy that the bishop put his hands on my head and blessed me. His loving act gives me strength to live with the disease," Lanh said.
The 48-year-old said that doctors could not treat her malignant tumor and it causes her severe pain all the time.
Nguyen Van Van, a tuberculosis sufferer, said he was moved by Bishop Dao's encouragement.
"I feel loved and respected like a healthy man and I have found my value and dignity," Van said in a weak voice, sitting in a wheelchair. He has suffered from the disease for years and his wife cares for him.
Bishop Dao also consecrated a newly-built Marian grotto in the church compound.
St. John Paul II established the World Day of the Sick in 1992 to reflect the needs of the sick and suffering. The day is also the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Father Vincent Nguyen Manh Cuong, parish priest, said that this was the first ever celebration initiated by Bishop Dao who called on local Catholics to build the diocese into a "land of mercy." Since he became bishop of Xuan Loc Diocese in May 2016, Bishop Dao has showed mercy to poor people by visiting workers at factories, small traders at markets, patients at hospitals and elderly people, giving them rosaries and gifts, he said.
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