A late Saturday afternoon sunbeam danced in geometric patterns up and down the cobalt blue wind-furled veil, soon to be lowered to reveal Christ Cathedral Church in Garden Grove’s new next-door neighbor: a 12-foot statue of Our Lady of La Vang, the subject of veneration by millions of Vietnamese Catholics.
The natural laser light show was an unexpected treat for the estimated 8,000-plus parishioners, bishops, priests, dignitaries, visitors, and other curious souls who packed into the cathedral’s plaza on July 17 for the new shrine’s solemn blessing.
Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S. Archbishop Christophe Pierre admitted later that he did not notice the shimmering display while he gave his remarks during the dedication. But given the history and mystique surrounding Our Lady of La Vang, he said that vision could fit in rather purposefully with the other faith-inspired liturgical dances, children’s drum lines, and adult choir tributes that preceded it.
“I am amazed how these immigrants who have suffered so much always find a way to show commitment and perseverance and transfer their faith to the next generations,” said Archbishop Pierre. “It is interesting how the Vietnamese have kept a cultural identity as well as a Catholic identity. That comes from the depth of their evangelization. It is as amazing as everything else we saw today.”
Archbishop Pierre’s participation on behalf of Pope Francis was an apt indicator of just how big a deal the day was for American Catholicism. The French prelate even ended his remarks with a line in Vietnamese, which drew rousing applause from the audience….
Just minutes away from the bustling Little Saigon area of Orange County, nearly 40% of Christ Cathedral’s 5,000 registered families are Vietnamese. Orange County has the largest concentration of Vietnamese Americans in the country, and more than 100,000 of them are Catholic. Along with those in Orange, the populations in Los Angeles and San Diego comprise nearly one-fourth of the country’s Vietnamese Americans.
Vietnamese also make up a sizable percentage of new seminarians entering the priesthood in California. Their presence is felt in religious orders as well — at the dedication, the sisters of the Lovers of the Holy Cross congregations in Los Angeles and Nha Trang, Vietnam, were present along with Dominican sisters….
Orange County Auxiliary Bishop Thanh Thai Nguyen said in his homily during the Mass that the celebration “is an historic day for all of us. Our hearts are filled with joy and gratitude as we welcome Our Lady of La Vang into our home.”
Bishop Nguyen’s family fled Vietnam in 1979 to escape religious persecution. They survived nearly 18 days at sea with no food or water, and when they made it to the U.S., Bishop Nguyen vowed to dedicate his life to the Lord. He is the second priest born in Vietnam to be made a bishop in the U.S. — the first was Bishop Domonic M. Luong, who also led the Diocese of Orange from 2003 until his retirement in 2015 just days before his death….
The above comes from a July 23 story in Angelus News.