Let me share about my ministry and our Good Shepherd convent in Vietnam. It is difficult to introduce the convent because we don’t yet have a place to call our convent home. We are in the process of asking permission of the government to register the name Good Shepherd. It is a political process and will take a long time. Everything will be in God’s hands. Sisters in the Good Shepherd convent in Vietnam still live underground with the government since re-establishing our presence 20 years ago.
Our situation is very different from the US or Europe, or even our Asia Pacific region because we live in a Communist country. In Vietnam we have three communities: Sai Gon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vinh Long, and Ca Mau. I belong to the Sai Gon community.
Where we live in Vietnam
The house where I live is one of some small houses of the Sai Gon community. It looks like a normal house surrounded by many houses with people who are Catholic and non-Catholic. There are four members. Three of us are students, and the other Sister is our community leader and delegate for the Vietnam sector.
I am not involved in ministry directly. I mainly spend time on my Master’s degree classes in Counseling Psychology. I sometimes help visit the poor on weekends and help prepare refreshments to serve in our program for ethnic people or our school. Also on weekends, we who live in Ho Chi Minh City, gather together for adoration and meetings to share in common learning. We meet in the parish school (the land belongs to the diocese).
At the Good Shepherd convent in Vietnam we make and sell fruit drinks and other products to support our school nutrition program for children. Mainly we make the drinks from artichoke, chamomile, and chia seeds. Our community also makes jelly products with flowers inside. We sell our peanut and cashew brittle in the parish church to raise funds for our vocational training program.
The pandemic affects many poor people in Vietnam, and we have small projects to support some of them in areas where we work. There are many kind of things that we can cook to sell or share with others.
With the support and agreement of the Congregational Leadership Team, we can buy the land from the diocese and build a convent so we have a place to call Good Shepherd in Vietnam.
Good Shepherd convent in Vietnam operates a school
In Vietnam, Religious cannot operate schools. Most of the schools belong to the government or business men. Because of the huge need in the suburbs, we asked the government for special permission to operate a charitable elementary school. Most of the children we serve are from migrant families that moved from the countryside to the city and cannot afford to send their children to the public school.
Every year, we have around 300 students in grades 1-5. All of our services are free, including lunches for the children who study the whole day. Selling our homemade products supports these efforts. After graduating from our program, the children can continue to study in the public secondary school.
We live in the South of Vietnam. The typhoon floods are attacking the center of Vietnam, so we are not affected. We unite in prayers to support the people whose lives are impacted by the tropical storms.
Typhoons strike Good Shepherd convent
Typhoon Goni and a series of other tropical storms devastated the middle of Vietnam. Good Shepherd Sisters live in the South and were unaffected. Our Sisters in the Philippine Islands were not as fortunate.
The Philippine city of Virac is home to 70,000 people, including Good Shepherd Contemplative Sisters. Virac was the first urban area on Catanduanes Island to be hit by the tropical cyclone Goni (known as Super Typhoon Rolly in the Philippines) on November 1, the day when Catholic Filipinos remember the dead.
Goni was one of six cyclones that hit the Philippines in a span of just four weeks. With 195 mph winds, Goni was the strongest landfalling tropical cyclone in world recorded history. It left 20 people dead and affected nearly every resident, including Good Shepherd partners in mission.
Worst hit was the Bicol region, specifically the locality of Catanduanes where the contemplative community of Good Shepherd Sisters is located. None of the Sisters was injured in the typhoon, although the convent sustained heavy damage.
The Good Shepherd International Foundation has set up an emergency fund to help the contemplative Sisters in the Philippines rebuild the convent, and to help mission partners who were rendered homeless by the storm. Contact Congregation Treasurer Sr. Yolanda Borbon at [email protected] if you would like to donate to the emergency fund.
Learn more about the Good Shepherd Sisters in Vietnam.
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