04/02/2013, 00.00
VIETNAM - VATICAN
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Easter in Saigon: 28 new baptisms and thousands of pictures of Pope Francis for the faithful

by Thanh Thúy
Card Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man celebrated Mass in Notre-Dame Cathedral before 2,000 people. The cardinal thanked God for the new pontiff, "an example of humility, empathy and compassion." For Catholics, the event provided an opportunity to be "more steadfast in faith" and "witnesses of the Gospel in an increasingly secularised world."

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - Card Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man marked Easter by baptising 28 catechumens. He celebrated Easter Sunday Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral in the city centre before a congregation of more than 2,000 people. Thousands of pictures of Francis Pope were also handed out. The prelate, who heads the Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam, had just returned from Rome where he had taken part in the election of Pope Benedict XVI's successor.

Before the start of the service, the archbishop, who was one of the 115 cardinal electors in the last conclave, baptised 28 catechumens. During the ceremony, he asked the crowd of faithful to pray for them. When the ceremony was over, he gave away a picture of the new pontiff, a short prayer printed on it that said, "Let us give thanks to God for granting us a Good Shepherd endowed with humility, empathy, mercy, and who is close to everyone. For this reason, let us continue to pray for him. "

During his homily, the archbishop of Saigon explained the passion and death of Jesus, which finds fulfilment in Easter. Christ, Card Pham Minh Man said, "went to his death to save humanity and give us a new life of love and harmony. Anyone who has faith in him will be set free from sin and the darkness of the earth".

In concluding, he noted that the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist are "given to every believer" as "the source and path for the attainment of eternal life."

People "had joy on their faces," said Peter, a young Catholic contacted by AsiaNews at the end of the Mass. "As for me, I am going home happy with my heart at peace," he explained.

"I thank God for the many 'gifts' I received. I hope the Holy Spirit can sanctify ever more my life and that of every Vietnamese Catholic. Let us always be steadfast in faith, persevere in hope and fervent in love, and be true witnesses of the Gospel in an increasingly secularised world."

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