GARDEN GROVE, Calif. (RNS) — Deborah Tran mentioned she now not practices her household’s Catholic religion, however she and her household made the trek from Denver, Colorado, to witness the disclosing of a shrine to Our Girl of La Vang, a patron of Vietnamese Catholicism and a beacon for her dad or mum’s technology of Vietnamese immigrants.
“She symbolizes perseverance and standing up for what you consider in,” mentioned Tran, 48. “It’s just like the Girl of Guadalupe for the Vietnamese group. That’s how huge it’s.”
Tran was one in every of an estimated 8,000 individuals who got here Saturday (July 17) to attend the disclosing of what’s the first main, stand-alone shrine to the La Vang virgin in the USA.
Our Girl of La Vang is alleged to have appeared in a distant rainforest within the late 1700s to a gaggle of Catholics fleeing persecution in Vietnam. She grew to become a centerpiece of Catholic religion within the nation, and after the autumn of Saigon on the finish of the Vietnam Warfare in 1975 — when greater than one million Vietnamese grew to become refugees — her intercession was credited with sparing the lives of her devotees.
The $12.6-million, 12-foot-high statue, situated on the Catholic Diocese of Orange’s Christ Cathedral, was constructed to be a gathering place for the 100,000 Vietnamese-American Catholics within the diocese. Greater than 5,000 folks from throughout the nation and the world donated to make the statue attainable.
Standing on pedestal formed like a cloud, Our Girl of La Vang is depicted holding the toddler Jesus and carrying a conventional Vietnamese áo dài gown and khăn đống hat. Above her is a glass cover held up by treelike pillars and a stainless-steel ribbon looping round it, which highlights the names of 117 Catholics who have been martyred for his or her spiritual beliefs in Vietnam.
Saturday’s blessing of the shrine included a Mass and different festivities. The Most Rev. Kevin Vann, bishop of the Diocese of Orange, welcomed a retinue of Catholic dignitaries on the blessing, together with former Los Angeles archbishop Cardinal Roger Mahony, San Bernardino Bishop Alberto Rojas, San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy and Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Marc Trudeau.
“That is additionally a sacred day of gratitude and pleasure for all of us as a result of really it’s an encounter with the Lord and his mom, Our Girl of La Vang,” mentioned the Most Rev. Kevin Vann, bishop of the Diocese of Orange, in the course of the blessing ceremony.
Additionally celebrating was Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican’s papal nuncio to the U.S., who addressed the congregants, saying, “We’re the church.”
“Don’t be afraid my buddies to be the church the place you reside on this nation,” Pierre mentioned. “You
can do loads to alter this society as a result of … all societies must be modified by the gospel.”
“Catholic means common. All of us we belong to the church in its universality,” Pierre added.
The nuncio’s presence pointed to the significance of Vietnamese Catholics and immigrants usually to the expansion of the church in the USA, the place 1 / 4 of Catholics have been born exterior the nation. As well as, Vietnamese Catholics have supplied 10% of vocations to the priesthood in recent times, according to Faith & Ethics Newsweekly.
Earlier than the blessing, Huan Le, chair of the Our Girl of La Vang committee, honored the late Dominic Luong, the primary U.S. Catholic bishop of Vietnamese descent, who helped plant a imaginative and prescient for the La Vang statue.
With the constructing of the shrine, Le mentioned Luong “noticed a vibrant place the place Catholics of all nationalities may come and rejoice Christ collectively by way of their tradition proper right here in Orange County.”
“Particular consideration was paid to seize the historic points of our mom Mary’s look in La Vang whereas seamlessly flowing with the famend structure of our Christ Cathedral,” he added.
Tran, whose quick household was caught leaving Vietnam after the warfare and despatched again, later made their method to the U.S. She wept as she defined what the Virgin means to those that keep in mind these instances.
“Whether or not you consider (in Our Girl of La Vang) or not,” she mentioned, “it’s one thing that saved them going by way of a war-torn nation.”
Caitlin Yoshiko Kandil contributed to this report.