By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — Much lower humidity, tolerable temperatures and a swift wind from the north made the dedication of a section of Mount Calvary Cemetery for the Vietnamese Catholic Community a well-attended event.
Bishop Martin Amos dedicated a section of the cemetery, west of Priests’ Circle, on July 25. Following the morning dedication was a Mass in Vietnamese celebrated by Father Hai Dinh, parochial vicar at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport where the Vietnamese community belongs.
John Costello, the cemetery’s sexton, said reserving space for the Vietnamese community has been in the works for several years. The process to buy cemetery lots there began with Father Joseph Phung when he was a parochial vicar at the cathedral. Work continued when Fr. Dinh became parochial vicar.
“Fr. Hai was very instrumental in getting this done and especially with the patio around the cross,” Costello said.
About 120 plots were purchased in the area, marked off with balloons for the dedication and Mass. Altogether, Mount Calvary Cemetery has about 70 acres of land, said Carey Sodawasser, assistant sexton.
The Vietnamese community brought umbrellas to shade themselves in the open area. Several also held umbrellas over the bishop and Fr. Dinh to shade them during Mass.
At the dedication, Bishop Amos said, “Brothers and sisters in Christ, a common Christian concern has brought us together to bless this land, where our bodies and the bodies of others sealed with the name of Christ will lie at rest, awaiting the dawn of the Lord’s coming in glory. After preparing this resting place for the dead, we should raise our hearts from earth to heaven and look to Christ, who suffered and rose again for our salvation. He has commanded that we keep watch for his coming and has promised to meet us when we rise again.”
As the rite continued, the bishop prayed, “May this place prepared in the sure hope of the resurrection, never cease to remind us of the life that we are to share in Christ, who will transform our earthly bodies to be like his in glory, for he is Lord for ever and ever.” The community responded with “Amen.”
The bishop moved from the back of the standing congregation to the front, sprinkling holy water along the way to where the cross, covered with a blue cloth, stood.
“As we look upon the cross, let us call to mind that on it Christ brought to completion the sacrament of his love for the Church. Let us, then, take part with all our hearts in this celebration, so that we may grasp the mystery of the cross more clearly and experience its power more deeply.”
The bishop continued, “May your people, who have raised this cross as a sign of redemption, find in it protection and strength. May they shoulder their own crosses in the spirit of the Gospel until their journey ends.”
The bishop extended his hands toward the cross, blessed and incensed it. The crowd clapped when the cover was pulled off and the cross exposed. Fr. Dinh translated the bishop’s words into Vietnamese throughout the dedication and blessing and presided at the Mass in Vietnamese that followed.
“For me, it was a great event for the Vietnamese community in the Quad-Cities in general and the Vietnamese Catholic Community at Sacred Heart Cathedral,” said Fr. Dinh.
He thanked Bishop Amos and the cemetery board for accepting the Vietnamese community’s request for a piece of land.
“The dedication of the plot and the cross has a lot of meaning to the Vietnamese community. From now on, the Vietnamese community has a place for their family members and relatives who passed away. They can gather together once or twice a year to pray for the dead.
“For the Vietnamese, when they live, they want to gather together as a small village with some same aspects, such as language, culture and custom, and when they die they also want to gather together at a same place. They want to be buried at the same place.”