St. Andrew Dŭng-Lạc was a priest in Vietnam in the early nineteenth century. He and his 116 companions, including Spanish Dominicans, members of the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris, and 96 Vietnamese, including 36 other priests, were all martyred around the year 1839. It is estimated that between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were martyred in Vietnam during the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries.
Like the poor widow in today’s Gospel reading, St. Andrew and his companions willingly gave everything – their very lives – for the faith and for our Lord. Because of their generosity and courage, the faith exists in Vietnam today. The cross has long been part of Vietnam’s history, from the early days of those persecutions, to the more recent history of war, and later communist rule. The faith is still there, but many have given up homes, lands, and even lives to pay for it.
As our Church year ends, may we take courage from the example of the Vietnamese martyrs and courageously rededicate ourselves to witnessing to the faith, regardless of the cost.