WASHINGTON (July 18, 1997) -- Archbishop Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, who now works in the Vatican after spending 13 years in Vietnamese prisons, will lead several sessions at the third biennial Vietnamese Catholic Congress in Houston, July 21 to July 25.
The theme of this year's Congress, which includes lay participation for the first time, is Evangelization 2000, and a central purpose of the meeting is directed toward lay participation in the evangelization efforts of the Church. Particular attention will be paid to the issues and concerns of Vietnamese youth and young adults in U.S. society and how their faith life can be enriched. Two sessions, including one led by Archbishop Thuan, will examine the challenges and directions of youth ministry.
Archbishop Thuan, 69, was appointed Archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in the closing months of the Vietnam War. He was arrested on August 15, 1975, by government authorities who had opposed his appointment as Archbishop. He remained imprisoned until November 21, 1988, and was compelled to flee Vietnam. In 1994, he was named the Vice President of the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace.
He will preside at a liturgy for Congress participants and the larger Vietnamese community living in the Houston area on Wednesday, July 23 at Vietnamese Martyrs Parish in Houston. A dinner -- with entertainment -- will follow. Other events outside the Congress sessions are also scheduled.
There are approximately 900,000 Vietnamese currently living in the United States; an estimated 200,000 of them are Catholic. There are 415 Vietnamese priests and more than 400 Vietnamese religious sisters living in the United States.
The Congress is sponsored by the National Pastoral Center for the Vietnamese Apostolate and the Federation of Vietnamese Catholics in collaboration with U.S. Catholic Conference's Officer for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees/Migration and Refugee Services. It will be held at the Adam's Mark Hotel, 2900 Briar Park Drive, Houston, Texas.