At the Hai Phong Minor Seminary: In the foreground, Most Rev. Joseph Vu Van Thien, bishop of Hai Phong (in blue shirt); and Most Rev. Michael C. Barber, SJ, bishop of Oakland. To Bishop Barber's left is Rev. Quang Minh Dong, a priest of the diocese of Oakland who is assigned to a parish in Las Vegas and who is serving as guide during the pilgrimage.
Very Rev. George Mockel
April 1, 2014
Research and preparation
Our flight to Vietnam departed SFO at 1:30 am only slightly delayed. Have you ever looked out the boarding area window at the plane you are about to board and asked yourself: I wonder how that giant piece of machinery gets off the ground and then stays in the air! If you are reading this, it did!
There are several reasons for this trip which I will explain in some future blogs. However in preparation for this trip I did a little research. They say "a picture is worth a thousand words." Take a look at a map of Vietnam and you can imagine some of the reasons for its difficult history. Vietnam comprises a very narrow strip of land between the South China Sea on the east, Laos on the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest and Thailand close by on the west. Not to mention China on the north! The shape and close proximity to some, not always friendly neighbors, reminds me of present day Israel.
Vietnam became independent from China in 938 AD. It was colonized by the French in the mid-19th Century and occupied by the Japanese in the 1940s. In a battle for independence the French were expelled in 1954. Vietnam became politically divided between North and South resulting in conflict between the two sides and with the gradual involvement of the United States the conflict intensified and became what we know as the "Vietnam War." That war was part of the fabric of my growing up years in the late '60s and early '70s. While great suffering and conflict certainly took place Vietnam, it caused not a little conflict and turmoil here at home.
More to follow! Much more!
(Father Mockel is vicar general of the Diocese of Oakland and pastor at Santa Maria Parish in Orinda.)
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