On Sun., Jan. 18, over 3,000 Catholics gathered in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to participate in the concluding Mass marking the arrival of the first Jesuits in Vietnam 400 years ago. The event culmination of a year-long celebration that started last January when Archbishop Paul Bui Van Doc, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam, celebrated the opening Mass. That Mass had a congregation of over 1,500 with over 100 additional priests concelebrating. This year’s closing Mass included Father General Adolfo Nicolás, SJ, as one of 14 concelebrants, and main celebrant Jesuit Bishop Cosmas Hoang van Dat of Bac Ninh located in the north of Vietnam near Hanoi.
The Jesuits who arrived in Vietnam 400 years ago, came after the death of Italian Jesuit missionary Fr. Matteo Ricci. While they had originally intended to go to Japan, they quickly began to befriend the local people by learning their language and culture. Since those Jesuits arrived, Christianity has continued to grow and spread in Vietnam. Additionally, the Jesuit presence there has grown as well. The Vietnam Province is one of the largest Jesuit provinces in the Asian Pacific Jesuit Conference.
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