By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — Colorful banners honoring Mary filled the courtyard of Sacred Heart Cathedral on Aug. 19 as members of the Vietnamese Catholic community commemorated the Feast of the Assumption.
Each year on the Sunday closest to the Aug. 15 feast day, the Vietnamese community members celebrate the feast of Mary’s assumption into heaven with rituals from their homeland.
Bishop Martin Amos opened the celebration with prayer and the community sang in Vietnamese. Young children danced with flowers before a statue of Our Lady of LaVang.
“We celebrate Our Lady of LaVang who appeared to the Vietnamese to comfort and help the people through crisis, disease, poverty, hunger and oppression of the local government at the time,” said Lein Truong of the Vietnamese community. Catholics in Vietnam and those who have moved from the southeast Asian country continue the tradition of honoring Mary and showing gratitude for her comfort through troubled times.
The feast day’s significance for the Vietnamese dates back to the persecution of Catholics in Vietnam from 1798-1886, said Father Hai Dinh, parochial vicar of Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Following the dancing, balloons were released and a procession from the courtyard began along Tenth Street to the church. It was led by groups carrying banners with portraits of Mary and wording in Vietnamese and English.
Some passerby who did not belong to the community stopped to watch the Vietnamese process down Tenth Street.
The procession moved into the cathedral where Mass was celebrated in Vietnamese.