GREER—Vietnamese Catholics from the Palmetto State joined Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone for a Marian celebration at Our Lady of La Vang Church.
The feast day tribute to Mary is an important one for members of the Vietnamese community, said Maryanne Nguyen, a parishioner at Our Lady of La Vang.
“For us, Marianism is a very important part of our community,” Nguyen said. “We’ve chosen the Marian celebration as a special celebration for our church community (because) Mary has blessed us through Jesus Christ. Very luckily, for the past 15 years, we always have visitors to help us celebrate.”
Church officials estimated that more than 500 people attended the May 13 event.
The day kicked off as parishioners and visitors, including Bishop Guglielmone, joined in a procession that wound its way around the church, featuring people in traditional Vietnamese garments called ao dai. The procession ended in the church sanctuary, where Our Lady of La Vang youth performed songs and traditional dances, to heartfelt applause.
Following Mass, attendees socialized with one another at a reception, which featured Vietnamese and American dishes.
“The reception is the opportunity for all in the Vietnamese community … to gather, to eat together, and to get to know one another,” Franciscan Father David Phan said.
During the celebration, the Office of Ethnic Ministries, which sponsors the event, presented a new book on the history of Vietnamese Catholics in South Carolina, “Love Drives Us to do This.” The historian for the book, which was published in April, is Suzanne Krebsbach; project coordinators were Kathleen Merritt and Michael Tran, director and assistant director, respectively, of Ethnic Ministries.
The annual event honoring Our Lady of La Vang stems from a vision of Mary, who appeared to a group of Vietnamese Catholics hiding from persecution in the jungles of Vietnam in 1798.
All photos, Miscellany/John C. Stevenson: Top, Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone celebrates Mass at the Feast of Our Lady of La Vang in Greer.