By Charles Keith
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Extra info for Catholic Vietnam: A Church from Empire to Nation
Colonial public health system after 1904. However, more institutions came under the direction of other Catholic orders. The most influential was the Sisters of Saint Paul of Chartres (Dòng Nữ Tu Thánh Phaolô), which focused on education and child welfare. In 1860 the order came to Saigon, where its members administered MEP-founded institutions and founded more orphanages, day nurseries, and dispensaries in the city and nearby areas. 49 Although administration and finances remained under the control of French nuns, Vietnamese made up almost all of the labor force in most such establishments.
At the time of the Nguyễn defeat of the Tây Sơn in 1802, far fewer Catholics in Cochin china lived in tightly clustered socioreligious units than in Annam or Tonkin. 21 This first meant that many Catholic population centers were further dispersed, not concentrated. However, continued violence in the two decades preceding the French invasion helped concentrate many Catholics around large towns such as Saigon, where many Catholics from southern provinces fled in the 1850s and early 1860s. By the early colonial era, decades of violence and a pro-Catholic French military regime in Cochinchina had largely eroded communitarian coexistence and had begun to concentrate Catholics together more than in the past.
39 Despite basic commonalities among villages, social geography greatly affected Catholic associational life. Much collective life in Vietnamese villages was historically centered around associations that organized mutual aid when members of the community built or repaired a house, held a wedding or funeral, had financial troubles, or suffered from a drought, flood, or other natural disaster. In areas where Catholics were a minority, they regularly crossed communitarian boundaries in their associational life.