Friday, November 24, 2006

Saint Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions

Today is the memorial of the martyrs of the Far East, Saint Andrew Dung-lac and his Companions.

They were 117 altogether, martyred during the period between the 17th and 19th centuries. Many of them were foreign missionaries of the Order of Preachers and the Paris Mission Society who died together with their converts, some of whom became missionaries themselves like Saint Vicente Liem de la Paz (who studied here in the Philippines at the College of San Juan de Letran, where one of his bones is venerated) as well as lay catechists who assisted the priests and religious in their pastoral work.

The zeal and dedication of the missionaries and the loyalty and fidelity of the converts, even when they were still young in the faith, leave an example for us, pastors and faithful to imitate. Even in those difficult imes of persecution, their faith in Christ did not falter but only grew stronger. In fact, it is largely what inspired our Patroness of the Missions, Saint Therese of Lisieux, in her desires to become a missionary herself and to join the Carmel of Hanoi. One of her beloved saints, then Blessed Theophane Venard, is among those whom we honor today together with Saint Andrew Dung-Lac, a convert himself who soon gave his life at the service of the flock as a diocesan priest. Despite repeated arrests and opportunities to gain liberty, he persevered until the end and became truly conformed to Christ, Priest and Victim, unto death. (Rev. Lac Pham, SJ, a Vietnamese Jesuit deacon who lived here in San Jose last semester must be named after him).

As we celebrate the victory of these glorious witnesses of Christ, let us pray for Vietnam and the rest of Asian nations who have yet to achieve the full recognition and realization of religious liberties in their countries. May the blood of these holy martyrs, the seeds of the faith in these parts of the world, grow by the grace of God into a truly vibrant Asian Church.

More about the Martyrs of Indochina

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