Last holiday, I went back to Viet Nam to visit my family and friends. My uncle, who is also a priest, picked me up from the local airport, which is about an hour’s drive from my home. I was so happy to be picked up by my uncle – it had been some years since I had seen him. However, it was a Saturday afternoon and he has two parishes to run, so I asked him, ‘picking me up at this time, how can you have enough time to go back to your parishes for the Saturday Vigil Masses.’ He laughed and said that the people here come to Mass at any time during the day. As soon as they hear the bell ringing, they come to Mass. There is no bulletin or website to advertise the Mass times.
Time is not everything for them, God is everything for them. The local people are happy to leave their work at any time of the day and come to Mass, even if it is their harvesting season.
As you can imagine, I said to my uncle, ‘Wow! I can’t do that at my parish in New Zealand. I would get a lot of attention and maybe a few letters of complaint afterwards!’ To make myself feel less guilty because of his kindness in picking me up, I offered to help him with a Mass that Saturday evening, but he said that I would be too tired after so much travelling. That afternoon, my uncle went back to his parishes, and he did two Masses; one was at 4:00pm and the other was at 7:00pm.
With Bishop Paul’s new proposal for our diocese, I hope that we can be united and flexible in our spirit so that there is always room for God to surprise us. Let us walk into the future with hope, not because of our ability to organise our lives, but because God is everything, and nothing is impossible for God.
Father Tien Cao