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Integration into the Local Community by Catholic Migrants through Religious Participation in Hanoi, Vietnam

ARC Team 02
2023-07-15 21:23 269

Integration into the Local Community by Catholic Migrants through Religious Participation in Hanoi, Vietnam 

 Religion and Social Communication 21, no. 1 (2023)

Thi Ngoc Anh Nguyen



With the substantial flow of people from rural to urban areas in recent years, especially in the capital city of Hanoi, Vietnam, migration has become a topic of interest to many experts. This study aims to explore the religious practices of Catholic migrants who come to Hanoi to study and work. The study involved a survey of 402 Catholic migrants as well as 12 in-depth interviews and two focus groups held in parishes where migrants participate in religious activities. The findings indicate that Catholic migrants actively engage in religious practices such as prayer, attending solemn Sunday Masses, and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Women were found to participate in solemn Masses more frequently than men, and those with higher levels of education attend Sunday Mass more often than those with lower levels of education, as revealed by Chi-Square Test results. Other religious activities among Catholic migrants include receiving the Eucharist and joining associations of immigrants and native-born people, which make up more than 50 percent of their religious participation. Although a small percentage of migrants participate in additional activities such as fasting, retreats, and pilgrimages, the number of pilgrims has increased since 2015 due to improved family finances. The study suggests that participating in religious activities can provide valuable opportunities for migrants to integrate into society and settle into their new homes. By participating in religious activities in local parishes, migrants can connect with local people and other migrants, forming a network that can help them access better employment, career, education, and information.  

Keywords: religious activities, religious practices, Catholic migrants, Catholics  


1.  Introduction  

Numerous research conducted globally demonstrates that becoming a member of a religion is a requirement to be religious. According to several studies such as those carried out by Bainbridge (1989), Lipford et al. (1993), and Evans et al. (1995), engagement in religion lowers crime rates. Many qualitative studies, such as those by Dolan (1972), Min (1992), George (1998), and Zhou et al. (2002) describe the economic and social benefits of belonging to a religious group; yet, religious participation can lower income levels and vice versa (Lipford et al. 2003), which will improve security, safety, comfort, hope, and meaning (Johnson and Larson 1997; Kerley et al. 2005). According to specific research, women are more involved in religious activities than men are (Jang and Johnson 2005). Hirsman and Charles (2004) identified the three Rs: ‘refuge,’ ‘respect,’ and ‘resources’ as reasons migrants engage in religious activities which bring immigrants respect and dignity. Joining a religion enables individuals to carry out their religious obligations, forges close bonds with others, offers stability, instills hope, and cultivates polite behavior that makes them feel appreciated and relieves stress (Eryilmaz 2015). 

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