Archbishop Paul died of cardiac arrest after celebrating Mass with the bishops of Vietnam at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls during their ad limina visit in Rome.  Photo courtesy of Radio Vaticana

Speaking Out: Vietnamese Archbishop Paul Đọc Văn Bùi lived the Gospel

By  Speaking Out, Vincent Pham
  • April 5, 2018
I was shocked when I learned of the death of Vietnamese Archbishop Paul Đọc Văn Bùi of Ho Chi Minh City. 

I found out through a Facebook post on the evening of March 6, just a little more than 24 hours after I watched a video of the 73-year-old archbishop shaking hands with Pope Francis. 

Archbishop Paul died of cardiac arrest after celebrating Mass with the bishops of Vietnam at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls during their ad limina visit in Rome. 

Even though I have never known Archbishop Paul personally, I feel a special connection to him. For many years, I followed his homilies and Masses via Facebook Live and YouTube livestream. His homilies deepened my faith and touched my heart. 

One homily that has made a deep impression was one of his last, talking about how we should return to the merciful Father with our whole heart. The archbishop said that we, in some way or another, are “prodigal children” because of sin and that we are called to turn back to the merciful Father. 

The sudden death of this faithful archbishop and homilist prompted me to think about death. My mother has always said there are two things that every human being can’t escape from: paying taxes and death. I have always had a fear when speaking about death. 

However, Archbishop Paul’s death helped me learn that we must always be prepared for the last day. That means we must live life in holiness, spending time in prayer and faithfully fulfilling our duties with joy. 

Archbishop Paul was a man of prayer, awaiting the last day. Cardinal Peter Nhơn Nguyễn of Hà Nội testified to this fact in his homily at the late archbishop’s funeral. 

Prior to the archbishop’s episcopal ordination, he was a professor who taught at the seminary. Not only did he teach his students about prayer, but he lived what he taught, faithfully praying the breviary and the rosary every day. 

Salt and Light TV interviews Archbishop Paul at the 2014 Synod of Bishops on the Family. (Salt and Light TV/Youtube)

He faithfully served the Diocese of Mỹ Tho from 1999 to 2013 before being named the Archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City. I not only admire his deep, well thought homilies, but I also admire the fact that Archbishop Paul preached the Gospel through his actions.

He had special concern for the poor, going outside the city to celebrate Masses in poor areas. 

On the World Day of the Poor last year, the archbishop hosted a banquet for more than 600 people in need at his residence, greeting each guest as if they were his closest friends. 

We must live each day in the spirit of holiness so that we may live with meaning and always prepared for the last day, even if it comes suddenly. 

(Pham, 17, is a Grade 11 student at Chaminade College School in Toronto, Ont.)

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