Thousands expected at inaugural Marian Day celebrations at Christ Cathedral – Orange County Register
While preparing for the “historic” blessing of the long-awaited Our Lady of La Vang Shrine last summer at the Cathedral of Christ, Bishop Thanh Thai Nguyen said he was already planning to hold a Marian Day celebration
The Catholic Diocese of Orange, serving one of the largest Vietnamese communities in the world outside of Vietnam, expects “thousands of faithful from all over the region and the country” to visit on Friday and Saturday July 1 and 2, for its inaugural Marian Day Celebrations.
Masses, processions, gatherings, worship, dances, food and entertainment are planned, with the Shrine of Our Lady of La Vang as the centerpiece.
The shrine has provided “reverence, joy and inspiration” to visitors to the Christ Cathedral campus since its completion after years of planning and fundraising, diocesan officials said. The shrine features a 12ft tall statue of the Virgin Mary in a traditional Vietnamese ao dai in front of a background that depicts La Vang forest where the Marian apparition is believed to have appeared in 1798 to comfort Catholics persecuted in central Vietnam.
The Diocese of Orange festivities were inspired by the annual Marian Day event held in Carthage, Missouri – a pilgrimage-style festival that has taken place since 1978 and attracts tens of thousands of people.
Bishop Nguyen said he himself visited Marian Days in Missouri to “learn and observe” and follow their pattern of celebration.
“I think the highlight of Marian Day that I learned from Missouri is the Marian devotion among the Vietnamese people.” he said. “I have learned this, and experienced it, over the past four and a half years working for the Sanctuary of Our Lady of La Vang.”
Too much “loneliness” and “fear” persist in today’s society, despite the fact that communication seems to be at an all-time high, Nguyen said. Marian Day celebrations are a way for people to ‘feel loved and part of something bigger than themselves’ to deal with this loneliness and find peace, he said .
“I believe that from their loneliness they can come to the Marian Day and from the Mass, where they can pray and from the confession and the Marian procession they will feel the love of Mary towards them,” he said. declared.
Father Christopher Smith, the cathedral’s rector who is retiring at the end of June, said being able to provide spaces at Christ’s Cathedral for cultural events – including Marian Day celebrations – “fits in the mission” of the Diocese of Orange and Catholic Church. The diocese makes its facilities available to several cultural groups and offers masses every weekend in English, Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese.
With its “symbolism as a protector,” Our Lady of La Vang provides a “message of healing and comfort” to the Vietnamese community, Smith added. He said he hoped the celebration of Marian Day would build bonds “among people, regardless of their cultural background.”
“These days, events that can help build unity are very much needed in the world,” he said. “So I pray that (the) Marian days to come will be that; not only a blessing for the people who come, but a blessing for all of us.