It's not a practical joke nor a social visit Ho Chi Minh city police made to the Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul at 32 bis Nguyen Thi Dieu St. Unit 113 law enforcement officers, as well as plain clothed police were there for a purpose which was to write up a report for what they called "illegal occupancy" of the 8 nuns who moved in to their uninhabited home at the said address to prevent it from being secretly torn down from the inside by service provider with connection to local government.

The sisters were from an order which owns the above facility - a 852 square meters gift donated by French Red Cross in 1959. Until the fall of Saigon in 1975, when all of privately owned facilities became under the state's management, the Nguyen Thi Dieu address had always been a school to preschool children. According to the Notice issued jointly by the Department of Education and the Committee of Church Liaison on Education, the ownership of the Church on this school was still recognized by the state, as long as the state keeps using it for educational purposes and be subject to the management of Bureau of Education in the Third district of Ho Chi Minh city. Being as trusting and devoting as always, the sisters pleaded "no contest" to the proposal.

Just when everything seemed to progress smoothly, in 1997, the government changed their mind and decided to seize the property, arguing that the property was in the state of absentee-landlord. The facility was then turned into a night club, and a brothel in disguise with its new assumed name: The VIP Club". The nuns were very disappointed by the flip flop manner of the government however they decided not to stir up any controversy and quietly filed another petition asking for their property to be returned again.

In 2005 when the sisters found out that their school was being changed gradually. Alarmed by the unexpected development, the nuns file a grievance to dispute the breach of contract. After getting no answer, the nuns once again had to witness their home being demolished by the Committee of Railroad System Management, the new tenant at the address, on Dec15, 2007. At their persistence, the Rail road committee has signed an agreement with the sisters to keep the scene as is until there would be an agreement being reached between the government and the nuns.

But the agreement bearing the signature of the government officials once again proved to be of no merit when of the parties signed but had no intention to honor their words and was ready to turn the hopeful (the nuns) into the hopeless.

December 15, 2007 approximately 70 sisters took matters into their hands, organizing a vigil prayer together with a group of students in front of news reporters. Their action momentarily stopped the demolition.

But the government was not done yet in their shady and dark mind. On June 12 as the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh city signed another decree to transfer the ownership to the Third district of Ho Chi Minh city. The nuns' protest erupted again, to no avail. Those only were able to halt the protests temporarily. Numerous verbal promises were made by the city government to the nuns but those were meant to keep them quiet. But behind the nuns' back, illegal maneuvers are still being carried out at the property.

Dec 17 2008 was the last drop in the sisters' cup, when they learned of another development going on inside their property. They reacted swiftly and decisively by moving into the Nguyen thi Dieu home to guard it from being damaged any further. This time they vowed to stay there until justice is served. The sisters slept on the floor of the abandoned building but they were not alone since they were visited by other priests and nuns from other orders and also from many sympathizers.

Seeing their moving in, the local police was immediately mobilized to the scene and a meeting was set up, in which the police insisted on the nuns to sign a report admitting they were occupying the property illegally. The nuns stood by their decision and said no. They pointed out who were really violating the agreement by secretly rebuilding the school into a place for anything but education, something the state from the beginning had promised to do.

After a brief altercation, a man was apprehended by Unit 113 police for videotaping what was happening. His camera was confiscated. The victim protested loudly, drawing attention from the bystanders and the police had to release him and quietly before the suspicious eyes of the public since the police's camera was still filming the same scene as the man being manhandled.

One of the sisters who has been sleeping on the floor since Dec17 night has opened up to VietCatholic News reporter in her peaceful demeanor:

“We have been effectively living justly and serving according to the order's tenet, meaning we're always ready for talks and co-operate with the government in working for the charitable work. Therefore in this case we have never wanted to make noise about it and we would like to hold dialogues wit the people who have been directly involved."

No none knows for how long the Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul would have to be out of their comfort zone to seek for justice, but as the weather is getting chilly during Christmas season, they certainly can get a firsthand experience with how would Joseph and Mary felt when being out of their home and under persecution just to be able to live their lives and protect the integrity of their family.