By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT – The Vietnamese Catholic community culminated its celebration of the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary with dedication of a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Aug. 18. An outdoor procession, Mass, dedication and luncheon at Sacred Heart Cathedral filled the day.
The Vietnamese community offers a special celebration of Mary’s assumption into heaven on the Sunday closest to the actual Aug. 15 feast day.
Mary is the patron saint of the Vietnamese, explained Father Joseph Nguyen, the cathedral’s parochial vicar. Vietnamese Catholics honor Mary because they believe she gave them hope during the persecution of Catholics in Vietnam from 1798-1886. There Mary (Our Lady of LaVang) appeared to the Vietnamese to help them through crisis, disease, poverty, hunger and oppression by the local government at the time, said Lien Truong of the Vietnamese Catholic community.
To begin the feast day, parishioners gathered in the courtyard where Fr. Nguyen read a blessing in Vietnamese. Parishioners processed from the courtyard to 10th Street and up the steps into the cathedral.
Mass was celebrated in Vietnamese. During the homily, delivered first in Vietnamese and then in English, Fr. Nguyen said the people were gathered to honor Mary and to give thanks to God.
The priest talked about the perpetual virginity of Mary, Mary as the mother of God and mother of the Church, her immaculate conception, and her body and soul going to heaven.
“We honor Mary as the patron of our community, the mother of the Church and the mother of all.”
Prior to the final blessing, parishioners gathered in the cathedral’s new east entrance where a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was placed.
The community bought the statue with the intention of placing it at Mt. Calvary Cemetery in the Vietnamese section. Due to restrictions, they were unable to do so. The statue had been placed in storage for several years. “We thank the Vietnamese community for the generosity of this Sacred Heart statue,” said Father Rich Adam, the cathedral’s pastor and rector.
Fr. Nguyen dedicated and blessed the statue and the final closing was offered.
As parishioners went from the entrance area to the celebration outdoors, many stopped to offer a prayer and touch the newly dedicated statue.