Vietnamese Americans Gather for New Marian Days Hosted by Christ Cathedral – Orange County Register

A year ago, thousands of members of the Vietnamese American community in Orange County gathered at Christ Cathedral to witness the unveiling of an outdoor shrine dedicated to Our Lady of La Vang.

On Friday evening, July 1, many Vietnamese Catholic faithful returned for an inaugural commemoration of the Marian apparition which is said to have blessed persecuted Catholics in Vietnam at the turn of the 19th century.

  • A member of the band Thien An Drummers performs during the inaugural Marian Days celebration at the campus or Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove on Friday, July 1, 2022. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Sanctuary of Our Lady of La Vang is the...

    The Shrine of Our Lady of La Vang is the backdrop for the inaugural celebration of Marian Days at the campus or Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove on Friday, July 1, 2022. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Parishioners attend the inaugural celebration of Marian Days on campus...

    Parishioners attend the inaugural Marian Days celebration at the campus or Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove on Friday, July 1, 2022. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Contributing Photographer)

  • A parishioner awaits the start of the inaugural Marian...

    A parishioner waits for the start of the inaugural Marian Days celebration at the campus or Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove on Friday, July 1, 2022. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Contributing Photographer)

  • The inaugural celebration of the Marian Days begins at the Sanctuary of...

    The inaugural Marian Days celebration begins at Our Lady of La Vang Shrine on campus or Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove on Friday, July 1, 2022. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Contributing Photographer)

  • A member of Thien An Drummers performs at...

    A member of the band Thien An Drummers performs during the inaugural Marian Days celebration on campus or in Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove on Friday, July 1, 2022. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Bishop Timothy Fryer, center, walks in the procession for the...

    Bishop Timothy Fryer, center, walks in the procession for the Marian Days Inaugural Mass on Campus or Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove on Friday, July 1, 2022. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Members of the Knights of Columbus prepare to participate...

    Members of the Knights of Columbus prepare to take part in the procession during the inaugural celebration of Marian Days at the campus or Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove on Friday, July 1, 2022. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Knights of Columbus wait to take part in the procession...

    Knights of Columbus wait to take part in the procession for the inaugural Marian Days celebration on campus or Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove on Friday, July 1, 2022. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Thien An Drummers Group performs at the first...

    The Thien An Drummers perform during the inaugural Marian Days celebration on campus or in Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove on Friday, July 1, 2022. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Contributing Photographer)

  • The procession begins for the inaugural celebration of Marian Days on...

    The procession begins for the inaugural Marian Days celebration at the campus or Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove on Friday, July 1, 2022. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Contributing Photographer)

  • Members of the Thien An Drummers Group perform at...

    Members of the Thien An Drummers band perform during the inaugural Marian Days celebration on campus or in Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove on Friday, July 1, 2022. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Contributing Photographer)

The two-day festival of worship and celebration, which continues today, July 2, left volunteer Alexis Vo feeling ‘proud’ to see ‘such a landmark’ begin to take shape in the county of Orange.

Celebrating Marian Days made her feel “connected to the larger community” of Vietnamese Catholics in Orange County who are “stronger as a group,” she said. The county and its little Saigon are home to the largest concentration of Vietnamese outside of Vietnam.

Marian Days was started by a Missouri enclave of Vietnamese refugees in the late 1970s. The original festival now draws a pilgrimage of tens of thousands of people from across the country and around the world to the city of Carthage each August .

As the vision for Our Lady of La Vang Shrine finally became a reality at Christ Cathedral, church leaders and members saw the opportunity to hold their own similar gathering, which Friday night included a group of drums and hundreds of young choir singers performing before an opening Mass in front of the sanctuary, which was draped in purple and white flowers.

This 12-foot-tall statue of the Virgin Mary wears a traditional Vietnamese áo dài dress and cradles the baby Jesus.

At the same time, a gathering of young people took place in the nearby gymnasium of Christ Cathedral Academy.

Vo said the inclusion of young people is important. She worries that younger generations of Vietnamese Catholics are losing key traditions, noting that often most of the choir groups she sees performing are older.

“I noticed most of the bands I saw were 40+,” she said. “I fear that the younger generation cannot adopt the Catholic way of life.”

However, the celebration of Marian Days gives her hope, she said, adding that she “loves the program” of youth choirs and dancers who “transmit and train” new generations.

Kristin Nguyen, one of the food vendors at the event, attended Marian Days celebrations in Missouri for years as a child.

“I grew up here, in this neighborhood,” she says. “It has gone down in history to have Marian Days here.”

Patricia Bui, another of the event’s 1,500 volunteers, said Marian Days remains a “big” celebration for the Vietnamese community.

The apparition of the Virgin Mary is said to have comforted a group of persecuted Catholics who had taken refuge in the rainforest of La Vang and remained a source of strength and hope for Vietnamese-Americans as they fled war and were going to the United States. .

Our Lady of La Vang’s ability to inspire miracles and comfort also motivates people to come and visit the grand shrine and the celebration, Bui said.

“You migrate to a country and then you have an event where you see all the familiar faces, including your customs, your culture and your food,” she said. “It feels so much like home, and that’s really the key thing that draws people in.”

Kateyln Ton, 18, one of the youth volunteers at the event, said she enjoyed seeing churches across California having a place to gather at the celebration. Ton, who traveled from Ontario, said the last time she attended a similar rally was “10 years ago.”

“We never really get the opportunity to put on events like this for our community,” Ton said. “It’s a bit crazy to see so many people here at the same time.”

Today, a Rosary procession at 4:30 p.m. will circle the campus of Christ Cathedral and come out into the streets. Throughout the day, the church holds various on-campus workshops and sessions for adults and teens.

Over 200 dancers are expected in a liturgical dance at 6:15 p.m. and over 500 choir singers and orchestral musicians will join Bishop Kevin Vann for a 7:30 p.m. Mass.

This year’s event is more than just a celebration, Nguyen said. She said she looks to the future of the Vietnamese Catholic community in Orange County and hopes a new Marian Days tradition can become a “great community builder.”

“It’s been a tradition for many, many years; it’s been like this forever,” she said. “So now we’re doing it for the younger generation to experience it.”

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