Asian, Pacific Island pilgrimage honors Mary

GREENVILLE—The annual Asian and Pacific Island Catholic Marian Pilgrimage was held May 7 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immac­ulate Conception in Washing­ton, D.C.

The event brought together many Asian and Pacific com­munities to celebrate their heritage and Marian devo­tions.

Michael Tran, assistant director for the diocesan Office of Ethnic Ministries, attended the celebration led by Archbishop Bernardito C. Auza, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.

Some of the communities represented in the pilgrimage included Bangladeshi, Bur­mese, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Lebanese, Montag­nard, Pakistani, Samoan, Sri Lankan, Thai and Vietnam­ese.

The day’s events started with the sacrament of rec­onciliation, followed by a procession and call to prayer, multilingual rosary and Mass. The procession featured a variety of Marian images venerated throughout Asia and the Pacific.

Tran, who came to the United States as a Vietnam refugee 21 years ago, said the pilgrimage illustrates the diversity of the groups.

“Asian and Pacific Island Catholics have always had the highest respect and reverence for Mary,” he said, adding that the event also helps build camaraderie.

“I see a lot of diversity there — people from Japan, from China, from India, from Indo­nesia; people from different cultures bringing that diver­sity to the event,” he said. “It’s a colorful celebration of our Mother Mary, and a way of bringing both diversity and unity with the church.”

Tran said Archbishop Auza praised the youth in atten­dance, and urged them to continue celebrating Mary in their lives.

“The young people may not speak in their native language that much anymore, but they are an important part of this celebration,” from reading the rosary to singing in their native voices. “They sang so beautifully together; like com­ing from an angel,” he said.

Tran said the Office of Ethnic Ministries hopes more people from the diocese can attend the celebration next year.

The Asian and Pacific Catholic Network sponsored this year’s event, in collabora­tion with the United States Conference of Catholic Bish­ops’ Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church.