Celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Congregation in Vietnam
It is a great joy for us to share with you what we did for the 150th celebrations in Vietnam.
On the 9th of August the community of Little Sisters at Dĩ An was very happy to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Assumption. The celebration went off very well, everybody was very happy to have been present. However, to have that success meant facing the great challenge of the preparation.
As soon as the project for the celebration had been decided, as it was a very big event, to share out the various tasks to teams. Several work teams were formed for the occasion – the team for the cooking, for the cakes, for decoration, posters, dancing, singing, for the liturgy and the team for presenting the videos. The community invited the young women from our hostel at Dĩ An to participate with them in this preparatory work, and they were involved in all the domains.
During the few days before D-day, all our refrigerators were filled with cakes, meat, vegetables etc. The team for the cakes and the kitchen team in which Colette, Điệp and Sáu were chefs began work very early. Every day, with the help of some of the young women, several types of cakes were produced. The house was very hot, and the atmosphere was very warm too!
The other teams were accompanied by the young sisters Hiền, Hòa and Minh. Everybody was at work– everything was homemade, by our hands and also our machines.
In addition the people of our parish helped us very much, kindly and gratuitously, for the singing, the decoration, the logo. The band even played ’Va avec la force qui t’anime…’ Each person really made their contribution so that our Celebration might be a success!
On Sunday, at the appointed time, everything was prepared, we were ready and the people we expected were slow in arriving! The families of some sisters were there and a few other persons. At last some twenty young people accompanied by a priest from the region of Đà Lạt arrived and then, a surprise guest: the rain. Torrential rain, like what we experience here during the rainy season! Some persons had to turn back, others arrived in spite of everything, and the umbrellas went back and forth to accompany people from the church to the place where the activities and refreshments were, or vice versa – that gave a convivial and humorous note!
At 5 p.m. the Church was packed for the Eucharist. Father Bosco, the principal instigator and witness of our presence in Vietnam, presided at the mass concelebrated by eight priest friends (Assumptionists and others) with the parish priest and the curate. Father Paul Hưng, the AA novice master, gave a homily that was simple and filled with friendship for us. The parish and the guests became acquainted with our founders whose portraits had a place of honour in the sanctuary, below the logo. The portraits preceded us in the entry procession, carried by Hiền and Sáu with, between them, a candle held by Nhung. Colette and Điệp welcomed the people, trying to express briefly the essential elements of the life of the nearly 4,000 Little Sisters in the course of those 150 years. Hòa did one of the readings and the person responsible for the parish team did the other. Another man from the parish team and Sáu read the bidding prayers. At the communion, the choir interpreted a song written by Minh for the 150th anniversary and set to music by one of her Franciscan friends. Hiền expressed our thanks, surrounded by the whole the community. The young women from our hostel, dressed simply in white, danced for the final thanksgiving: it was really beautiful. Minh was able to breathe at last – it was she and Hiền who had been responsible for the general organisation of that celebration.
The meal that followed was simple, since it was a buffet … without a table… and most of the chairs were chairs from the nursery school! We had indeed thought that stools and chairs "the right size for men and women" would be needed but we had forgotten to say who would see to that! Fortunately, the meal was good and everybody really enjoyed it! Fortunately, the rain had stopped too!
The young people with Father Cựờng from Đà Lạt remained in the schoolyard until late in the evening: it was their holidays! The next morning, after the Eucharist celebrated in the covered playground by Father Cựờng and Father Paul Hưng, a fine breakfast awaited some forty persons before they departed.
By the end of the morning everything was in order, classes could begin the next day!
It was a special occasion of friendship between us and the people of the parish. Knowing one another better helps confidence to grow.
It was a special time also because it was a time to recall and rejoice for Etienne Pernet and Antoinette Fage and all those who have gone before us and enable us to be here today, having found our path in life. A time for us to remember that we are a link in a long chain… in the Congregation, of course, but also more widely in the local Church: parish and Vietnamese. It is a chain of those who believe and who, through the Spirit, act as brothers and sisters, in the name of Jesus Christ, right down to the smallest things, so that "Your Kingdom may come".
Sisters Hờa and Colette