GREER—Early-morning rains that left behind threatening clouds weren’t enough to deter hundreds of parishioners — most of them Vietnamese — from gathering May 5 at Our Lady of La Vang Church for the annual Marian celebration.
The event honors Mary, who repeatedly appeared and gave comfort and aid to persecuted Vietnamese Catholics during the late 1700s and early 1800s. The stories of the Lady of La Vang gave rise to the construction of the first chapel in her honor, which was later destroyed by government forces.
Although the Vatican has never officially recognized this Marian apparition, Pope John Paul II in 1988 publicly acknowledged the importance of Our Lady of La Vang.
Sunday’s celebration began with a procession around the church that was filled with hundreds of worshipers from around the Palmetto State, and each region was recognized with a placard. The procession ended in a packed church, with overflow seating in the fellowship hall. People in the fellowship hall were able to attend Mass via a closed-circuit broadcast.
Prior to Mass, the girls and young women of the church performed traditional dances in the sanctuary. After, attendees were invited to a Vietnamese feast, which was served outside under a large tent.
Our Lady of La Vang parishioner Lynn Nguyen said the Marian celebration is an important one for the Vietnamese community.
“I am very happy and very excited to celebrate the Our Lady of La Vang celebration,” Nguyen said through an interpreter. “Because all Vietnamese love Mary — she fought for us, so we love to honor her.”