By Mark Weber
FORT WAYNE — As super blasts of firecrackers, an Asian gong and folks dressed in lucky red filled St. Patrick Church in Fort Wayne, the Vietnamese Catholic Community celebrated Tet, the Lunar New Year on Sunday, Feb. 14.
A Mass, richly colored with Vietnamese costumes and customs, and Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades presiding, was followed by a reception, entertainment and Vietnamese style chicken, pork, beef, fish, meatballs, egg rolls, rice, soup and dessert and fellowship which got the year off to a rousing and successful start.
Bishop Rhoades was joined on the altar by St. Patrick pastor, Society of the Divine Word Father Chau Pham; associate pastor Society of the Divine Word Father Thomas Ascheman; Holy Cross Father Martin Nguyen; and Society of the Divine Word Father Vinh Trinh, a missionary from Colombia who is visiting at St. Patrick.
The drums and gong chase the devil out of the new year, explained Father Chau Pham, and red is a lucky color, adding that the festivities also celebrate being out of Vietnam for 35 years following the fall of Saigon.
Bishop Rhoades placed an emphasis on the respect and veneration of Vietnamese ancestors, grandparents and parents and urged prayers for them, especially those who have passed on the Catholic faith to us.
“We have many priestly and religious vocations from the Vietnamese community in our country,” he said, “a testament to the strong faith of Vietnamese families. I hope and pray that you will preserve the faith in your homes and continue to pass on to your children the rich Catholic faith of your ancestors, including the thousands of Vietnamese martyrs who shed their blood for Christ.”
After the final blessing, adults were called forward to select a red envelope, “their spiritual fortune,” the Word of God, a personal Scriptural verse to inspire the recipient for the Year of the Tiger.
Then Bishop Rhoades and the other celebrants handed out red envelopes, lucky money, for the children.
Something for everyone to take home was the bishop’s reminder that, “The church in Vietnam, which has suffered so much persecution through the centuries, is strong and vibrant. It has shared in the passion of Jesus and has been blessed by the blood of the martyrs. I pray that our Vietnamese children and young people learn the stories of their ancestors in the faith and remain faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ for which they suffered. And I hope that the Vietnamese community here at St. Patrick’s and in our diocese will promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life among our young people. We have a great need and I ask you to please help me by praying for vocations and encouraging vocations in your families.”
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