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By La Vang

1/8/11 Vietnam (UCAN) – Pilgrims attending the closing ceremonies at the Shrine of Our Lady of La Vang Hundreds of thousands of people attended this week’s closing ceremonies for Vietnam’s just completed Jubilee Year at the Our Lady of La Vang National Shrine. In spite of rain and a temperature of around 10 degrees Celsius over 500,000 pilgrims gathered for the Jan. 6 closing Mass. The event also coincided with the 29th Marian Congress of La Vang held every three years at the 213-year-old shrine in Quang Tri province, central Vietnam. Marie Nguyen Thi Ngat, 60, from Dong Nai province, told that it was the first time she had visited the shrine. She prayed for local Catholics to bravely practice their faith and to evangelize after the Jubilee Year. “I also pray for my son who left me 10 years ago,” she added. A Sedang ethnic man from Kon Tum said he saved two million dong (US$100) over six months to pay for his family’s trip to the shrine. He, his wife and one-year-old son stayed at the shrine Jan. 4-6. “We come here to express our deep gratitude to Mother Mary who blesses us,” the 20-year-old farmer said. He added that 3,000 ethnic people from Central Highlands came to the shrine. Papal special envoy Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Vatican-based Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, presided at the closing Mass concelebrated by 42 bishops including seven ones from Australia, Cambodia, France, Laos and the U.S. The ceremony was also joined by 1,200 priests.

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