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2,000 At Auck. Eucharistic Convention This Weekend

31 March 2005

Media release

'Divine Intervention' Brings Sister of late Vietnamese Cardinal to speak at huge weekend Catholic Event at Auckland Showgrounds

Elizabeth Nguyen was hot, tired and upset.

Her ticket from Australia to her home in Canada was booked, but to get the super cheap airfare she had to pay for it that day. Unfortunately, or so it seemed two weeks ago, she missed the deadline by 30 minutes.

One thing led to another and, even though she badly wanted to return to Canada, having recently burying her sister and mum in Australia, she says Divine Intervention is instead bringing her to this weekend's Eucharistic Convention at Auckland Showgrounds.

She will tell the remarkable story of her brother Cardinal Francois-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, whose life included 13 years imprisonment in Vietnam and eventually being appointed President of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace before his death in 2002.

In her talk, which she originally thought was written for an American conference, she'll talk about her close family's upbringing; how her brother, then a Bishop, was placed in solitary confinement for nine years; how he agonised over the fate of his parishioners; how he celebrated Mass cold and alone using his palm as the altar and a tiny piece of scavenged bread and drops of wine smuggled in as "Father's stomach medicine"; how he caused his communist captors huge problems by remaining joyful, singing and praying, and loving his guards.

In explaining why she is coming to New Zealand so soon after losing her mum and sister, Elizabeth quotes a letter from the late Cardinal: "The will of God is always wonderful, but we have to understand the way of God is always a cross. This is how we as Disciples of Christ must live."

Two American priests, an American singer, and many kiwis will also give talks or perform at the 12th annual Eucharistic Convention, which draws 2,000-plus people from across New Zealand each year.

Bishop Patrick Dunn, DD, will celebrate the Friday night Mass. Other speakers include:

* Father David Knight, Texas-born, former "African bush priest", present director of "His Way House" in Tennessee, teacher of Catholic spirituality at top US Universities, and the author of 17 books.

* Father Ken Hannon, a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate from Texas, who is now lecturing in Pastoral Theology at Good Shepherd College in Auckland.

* Father Neil Vaney, SM, a lecturer in Christian ethics at Good Shepherd College.

* Fr Chris Skinner, SM, a kiwi recording artist who has devoted much of his two decades as a priest to helping at-risk youth, aided by his remarkable musical talents.

* Annetta Moran, mother of four adult daughters, teacher, Christian politician, and tireless pro-life worker for 35 years.

* Josephine Reeves, a qualified Barrister and Solicitor, President of Voice For Life (NZ) Inc. and a long-time advocate for human rights, particularly for the unborn and the vulnerable in society. Josephine is married with six children.

* Joseph Moorman, a brilliant American singer who sang at the California debut of Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ.'

The Eucharistic Convention will also include a free Youth Night on Saturday night.

Tickets for the 1-3 April Eucharistic Convention at Auckland Showgrounds are $35 for adults, $15 for seniors and students; and free for children 15 and under. Special assistance available. Visit http://www.eucharistic-convention.com/ for information.

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