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April 1: Research
and preparation

April 2: What a drive!

April 3: Heroes
suffering for the faith

April 4: Why go
to Vietnam?

April 5: The Church

April 5: Cemetery prayers

April 6: Cat Ba
Island Mass like
the early Church

April 7: Visit with seminarians

April 8: Meeting the Sisters

April 8: Reflections

Father Mockel getting directions from Sister Rosaline Lieu Nguyen, a Quinhon Missionary Sister of the Holy Cross and director of the Vietnamese Pastoral Center for the Diocese of Oakland.
Courtesy photos

April 8, 2014
Meeting the Sisters

Very Rev. George Mockel

Our last full active day in Vietnam was spent with two convents of Sisters. There are several congregations of religious women in Vietnam dedicated to the Holy Cross. Most of them are called "Lovers of the Holy Cross" and are differentiated by the city from which they were founded or the location of their Mother House.

One of these groups serves in several parishes in our diocese, including Sts. Felicitas, Joseph Pinole, Agnes, Monica and best of all, Santa Maria in Orinda (Father Mockel’s new parish).

Our office of the Propagation of the Faith has assisted these Sisters in Vietnam with financial help so they can soon construct a day care center for preschool children.

The Sisters wanted me to visit their convent to hear about their plans and through me, to thank the generous benefactors whose contributions will soon make this project a reality.

I was humbled to find out that some of the Sisters traveled 12 hours by bus to come to Saigon to express their appreciation and to help put on some pretty stupendous and wonderful entertainment.

The weather has been extremely hot and muggy. The day I spent with them, the temperature was close to 100. The hospitality of the Sisters has been nothing short of overwhelming. The conditions in which they live are simple and humble. (Sometimes I understate for emphasis.). Their joy and happiness is real and not in the least contrived.

In the accompanying photos you will get a taste of what I speak. I now have a better understanding of why the Sisters in this congregation who serve in our diocese are such a joy to be around!

The second group of Sisters are from Go Vap. They have sent four sisters to Father Quang Minh Dong’s parish in Las Vegas, so we wanted to visit them as well. Father Quang is a priest of the diocese of Oakland assigned to Las Vegas, and who was our guide during this pilgrimage.

As we entered the courtyard of the convent, I was not prepared for what awaited us. The Sisters — 320 strong — formed two lines with us walking between. The line began with the youngest and eventually led at the end with the most senior Sisters leading us into the dining room.

The dining room was the size of a large gymnasium. I told them that in all my life I had never seen so many Sisters in one place at one time. The genuine joy that radiated from that room was overwhelming.

They somehow found out about my Italian heritage and served pasta that would rival any that I have ever made or even tasted in Italy.

At the end of the meal we were treated to some dancing and singing. These Sisters have rhythm as well.

What a moving end to a very momentous trip. Thank you to so many wonderful people who made it possible.

(Father Mockel is vicar general of the Diocese of Oakland and pastor at Santa Maria Parish in Orinda.)

Meeting a few of the Sisters.

The Sisters listening patiently to my homily

Father Mockel leaves the chapel after Mass.

Having lunch with the Sisters, Sister Rosaline and Father Quang.

Some Sisters traveled for 12 hours to get to Saigon, where the Sisters provided entertainment for their US visitors.

Novices dance.

Dancers portray a map of Vietnam.

The Sisters gave me a beautiful red vestment.

Following our visit to the Quinhon sisters we visited another community of sisters a small convent of 320 sisters.
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