Nona Bua Lamphu, Thailand, Nov 6, 2013 / 04:06 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A large group of Vietnamese Catholic youth living in Thailand recently participated in a faith encounter pilgrimage camp there, renewing their commitment to Christ.
“The purpose of this encounter camp is to provide opportunities of empowering them with spiritual support in their faith while being away from the Catholic environment that they have been accustomed to in their home country, Vietnam,” Fr. Anthony Le Duc, local chaplain to the Vietnamese community, told CNA.
“It is an opportunity for Vietnamese youth in Thailand to gather to support one another and to share with one another their faith and life experiences.”
The third annual “Journey with Christ” camp drew over 100 Vietnamese youth who work or study in Thailand to Nong Bua Lamphu, a town in the country's northeast, located a little over 30 miles southwest of the cathedral city of Udon Thani, for the Oct. 25-26 camp at St. Michael the Archangel parish.
Although around eight percent of Vietnamese are Catholic, members of the Catholic faith account for less than one percent of Thailand's population.
While living and working away from their home, Vietnamese Catholic youth in Thailand often lack opportunities to share and build relationships, due to their working conditions and a language barrier that makes it difficult for them to receive the sacraments in many areas of Thailand outside large cities.
“Being united through these camps, they share their joys as well as struggles, and at the same time strengthening their Christian faith,” said Fr. Le Duc.
Ngo Hong Quan, a participant in the camp, said that “through the theme 'Journey with Christ,' we have been supported, affirmed, and challenged in our faith, and feel a great sense of solidarity with each other and with Christ, who continues to journey with us.”
Nguyen Van Thang, an organizing member of the event, said that “I feel very blessed to have a part in this event, to meet many new friends whom I have never known before.”
“It feels wonderful to see the joy displayed on everyone's faces and to see how distances between people are lost, when we gather in the love of Christ.”
Another participant, Phan Thuy Tien, told CNA, “I realized that as someone who had attended these camps before, it was now my responsibility to display enthusiasm and try to spread the fire to other participants.”
“I want all of us to be enthusiastic about being witnesses for Christ, no matter how tired we may feel in our life of work and studies.”
Fr. Le Duc said that “it has been extremely rewarding to see how much the youth who come leave the camp with renewed spirit and commitment to Christ.”