.- The Archbishop of Hanoi has said that preparations for Vietnam’s Jubilee celebrations are “well underway.” Despite “enormous obstacles,” the Catholics of the country will celebrate the 350th anniversary of the first apostolic vicariates of the country and the 50th anniversary of the elevation of the country’s three archdioceses.
In an interview published on the Vietnamese bishops’ website on Nov. 3, Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet said that among the obstacles was the fact that the local government did not understand how the Jubilee ceremonies will take place.
“Such a huge crowd coming from multiple dioceses will make coordination efforts a real challenge,” he explained, saying that the town of So Kien has shortcomings in logistical support.
"Nonetheless, everything is all well underway now,” he added.
So Kien was the first site the Church in Vietnam could build a large and durable complex of buildings. The archbishop noted the “harmonic architecture” of the area, whose 10 acres contain a cathedral, the Vicariate Office of Tay Dang Ngoai and a deteriorated Major Seminary.
The location is almost equidistant between Hanoi and other major cities.
Expected to attend are 30 cardinals and bishops, 4,000 priests and at least 100,000 faithful. It is believed the event will be the largest recent gathering of Catholics in North Vietnam.
The archbishop credited generous efforts of northern dioceses and the Archdiocese of Hanoi in particular.
The opening ceremony is scheduled to take place at So Kien on the evening of Nov. 23, the Vigil of the Feast of the Vietnamese Martyrs.
The martyrs Andrew Dung Lac and 116 companions were beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1988.
The Diocese of Hai Phong has designed a giant torch for the event, while a musical troupe with 200 trumpeters will come from Bui Chu diocese. Another 200 drummers will come from Thai Binh Diocese and a large choir will gather together 750 singers from the dioceses of Than Hoa, Hung Hoa and Lang Son.
A large number of volunteers for the ceremony had registered with the Jubilee’s organizing committee. About 300 of them come from the remote dioceses of Vinh and Phat Diem.
All Vietnamese dioceses will observe a Novena from Nov. 15-23 in preparation for the Holy Year. After the grand opening ceremony at So Kien, each diocese will have an opening ceremony on Nov. 28. The Holy Jubilee will run through Jan. 6, 2011 with the closing ceremony to be held on the Feast of the Epiphany at La Vang National Sacred Marian Center, Fr. J.B. An Dang tells CNA.
On Sept. 9, 1659, Pope Alexander VII established the vicariates of Dang Ngoai (Tonkin) and Dang Trong (Cochinchine) with French Bishops Francois Pallu and Lambert de la Motte, appointed first prelates. On Nov. 24, 1960, Blessed Pope John XXIII established the Catholic hierarchy in Vietnam, elevating Ha Noi, Hue and Saigon to archdioceses.