The Rice Lady of Vietnam

The Rice Lady of Vietnam

     “He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money onto the treasury.   Many rich people put in large sums.  A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.  Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury.  For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”  (Mark 12: 41-44)

     In a quiet neighborhood on the other side of the world lives a quiet woman whom most would think insignificant.  But they would be wrong.  With her heart of service, this woman touches the lives of many. 

     Christ speaks of a widow who sacrifices two small copper coins – all she possesses.   Yet in her generosity, she gives more than the rich people contributing large sums.  The “Rice Lady” brings that story to life in Vietnam.

     Fr. Tom, SCJ, met the Rice Lady on his first day in Ho Chi Minh City when he went to visit St. Paul’s parish and Huong Tam School, a grade school supported by the U.S. Province of the Priests of the Sacred Heart through the help of our generous donors.  She, the Rice Lady, pulled up on her motor scooter and, with two helpers, handed over a couple of sacks of rice for the community house.  The rice is the widow’s coins of the story.

     You see, this woman is not wealthy and really cannot afford to pay for the sacks of rice that help feed 22 hungry young men studying to become SCJs.  But this woman has figured out a way to solve that problem and provide the much needed rice.

     Each month she collects money from friends, neighbors and Lord knows who else to gather enough funds to pay for four sacks of rice.  Rice is served seven days a week for at least two meals a day.  It takes a lot of rice to last a month.  Our Rice Lady does her part to make it all possible.

     The story of the Rice Lady, like the story of the widow’s offering, is simple and profound.  We are humbled by her kindness and reminded that there are people who give so much and live the Gospel values of caring for others.

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