Vietnamese Lenten retreat celebrates the Holy Spirit

GREENVILLE–A temporary power failure couldn’t dim the light of the Holy Spirit during a Vietnamese Charismatic Renewal Lenten Retreat sponsored by the Diocese of  Charleston Office of Ethnic Ministries.

Power was restored with a generator and Father Minh Cong Bui of the Diocese of  Orange, Calif., led the rest of the retreat without a hitch. The theme was: “Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15) and the priest spoke of the transformative power of the Holy Spirit.

“Only God can change people’s lives,” Father Bui said in an interview with The Miscellany. “We cannot change our lives without Him. We need the power of Jesus. With the Holy Spirit, I have seen people reform their addictions, their problems, and their fears.”

More than 400 Vietnamese Catholics traveled from as far away as Texas and Michigan to Our Lady of the Rosary Church March 23-25 to hear that message.

Franciscan Father David Q. Phan, the diocesan vicar for Vietnamese Ministry and parochial vicar of St. Anthony of Padua Church in Greenville, was impressed with the collaborative spirit of the Upstate Vietnamese community in organizing the event. He remarked on  “the generosity of the people, “because without their help and support we would not be able to make it through.”

The retreat included daily Mass and Stations of the Cross, which were posted in Vietnamese around the church’s gym. An eight member band with two guitars and six singers played music. Lyrics were projected on a screen in Vietnamese, and people sang  along.

Parishioners strung hundreds of white doves and candles between the basketball rims to represent the Holy Spirit.

Linh Trân said he and his family traveled from Boston to attend because the Charismatic Renewal has changed his life.

“The Holy Spirit [first] touched me five years ago, and I live my life very differently  now,” he said. “It changed me 360 degrees. I realized society was on the wrong path  and was corrupted. Now I am on track with my life.”

“The retreat is very special to Vietnamese Catholics since they can experience faith  healing through Charismatic prayers,” said Michael Tran, assistant director of Ethnic Ministries for the diocese. “On the last day of the retreat, some of the attendees shared … how they experienced the change inside them when they attended the retreat.”