Vietnamese Catholics pay homage to deceased French missionary

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The Catholics of Hanoi paid a final tribute to a French missionary who spent his life working for their well-being and development.

Father Paul Carat died at the age of 100 at L’Herbasse in France on November 24. He had served in the Archdiocese of Hanoi in Vietnam and in the Diocese of Kontum for 25 years from 1952 to 1976. His funeral was held at Saint-Donnat Church. November 30.

A special mass was celebrated in his honor by Father Anthony Nguyen Van Do, pastor of Tuy Hien Church, on November 30.

Local Catholics wearing white mourning headbands offered incense and flowers to the altar of the deceased priest decorated with large wreaths in the center of the church before mass.

The celebration at the parish with 4,300 members was an expression of their deep gratitude and respect for the priests who served among the local Catholics.

Father Carat, whose Vietnamese name was Paul Le Xuan Ca, was assigned to the parish from 1955 to 1958. He was a member of the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris (MEP).

Although I am no longer in Vietnam, my heart is firmly attached to this country and this Church.

As a foreign missionary, he could not approach the local population due to the political situation, but “one thing is for sure – he always put his whole heart into the ward and did his best to take care of the flock” , said a parish message.

His dedication was evident from what he wrote: “Although I am no longer in Vietnam, my heart is firmly attached to this country and this Church. I always pray that Vietnam will be a rich, developed and peaceful country in the world. “

Redemptorist Father Peter Nguyen Van Khai said that after landing in Hanoi in 1952, Father Carat served the Phu Yen and Phu Gia subparishes, and Thuong Thuy parish near Hanoi. He also provided pastoral services for soldiers in Dien Bien, Hoa Binh, Lai Chau and Son La provinces.

In 1955, Bishop Joseph Mary Trinh Nhu Khue of Hanoi assigned him to the parishes of Dong Chiem, Nghia Ai and Tuy Hien in an area controlled by communist forces.

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He worked at Ham Long Parish from 1958 to 1960, when he was expelled to France by the government. Members of the European Parliament ended their missions in northern Vietnam after nearly 300 years.

Father Carat returned to Saigon in 1961 and looked after the parish of Loc Ninh before starting to work among the ethnic villagers of the diocese of Kontum the following year. He and other missionaries, religious and catechists were arrested and detained in the forests in May 1972 by communist forces. He was released in August of the same year.

He served a parish in Binh Dinh province from 1974 to 1976, when he was expelled from the country. But he returned to Vietnam and revisited his parishes several times after 1987.

The French missionary is the author of five books retracing what he saw and lived during his missionary service in Vietnam.

“These are readable books about the great suffering the local Church endured from 1945 in the north and 1975 in the south under Communist rule,” Father Khai said.

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