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Alane Howard is currently the webmaster and promotional material designer for events at St. Pius X Parish in Mountlake Terrace, Washington. She joined the parish staff team March 2016.

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time – November 19, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

As you walk into the sanctuary, you will notice a new addition – a statue of our Lady of La Vang (pronounced La Vong), the Patroness of Vietnamese Catholics. Last weekend at the Saturday Vigil Mass, our Vietnamese community hosted a special celebration for Our Lady of La Vang, bringing her forward on a beautiful flower-laden carousel to be blessed and then officially dedicated in her new shrine at the rear of the church. What followed was almost equally important, traditional Vietnamese food and karaoke! My thanks to our Vietnamese community (as well as the American Heritage Girls for helping prep and serve), who dedicated many hours preparing for this important day. For me, it was another meaningful example and celebration of the incredible cultural diversity of our parish community.

The statue of our Lady of La Vang commemorates the apparition of our Lady to a group of persecuted Vietnamese Catholics. The first apparition of the Lady of La Vang occurred in 1798, when the persecution of Vietnamese Catholics began. Many Catholics from a nearby town sought refuge in the deep forest of La Vang. A great number of these people suffered from the bitter cold weather, wild animals, sickness and starvation. At night, they often gathered in small groups to say the rosary and to pray. Unexpectedly, one night they were visited by an apparition of a beautiful Lady in a long cape, holding a child in her arms, with two angels at her sides. The people recognized the Lady as Our Blessed Mother. The Blessed Virgin comforted them and told them to boil leaves from surrounding trees to use as medicine. She also told them that from that day on, all those who came to this place to pray would have their prayers heard and answered.

From the time Our Lady of La Vang first appeared, the people who took refuge there erected a small and desolate chapel in her honor. During the following years, her name was spread among the people in the region to other places. Despite its isolated location in the high mountains, groups of people continued to find ways to penetrate the deep and dangerous jungle to worship the her. Today, it continues being one of the central pilgrimage sites in Vietnam for the faithful. Our Lady of La Vang, pray for us!

Queridos Parroquianos,

Cuando ustedes vayan a entrar a nuestra parroquia, verán una estatua nueva de nuestra Virgen Maria, Nuestra Señora de La Vang, la patrona de los Vietnamitas Católicos. En la semana pasada durante la Misa Vespertina, la comunidad Vietnamita presentó esa estatua puesto encima de una carusa llena con flores para beneficiarla y después, dedicamos el santuario en la parte posterior de la iglesia. Gracias a todos que trabajaron bien fuerte en preparación para esa dedicación y para la fiesta Vietnamita después.

El 17 de agosto 1798, el rey vietnamita Canh Thinh emitió un edicto anticristiano y dio la orden de destruir todos los seminarios e iglesias católicas. Comenzó una cruel persecución a los católicos vietnamitas que duró hasta 1886. Muchos de ellos fueron martirizados y quemados vivos. Fue en este contexto que “Nuestra Señora de Vang” se apareció al pueblo de Vietnam. La primera vez fue en 1798 cuando visitaba a los cristianos refugiados en pequeños grupos, en la espesa foresta de La Vang, donde sufrían de frío, el acecho de las bestias salvajes, enfermedades y hambre. La bella Señora vestía un largo manto, sostenía un niño en sus brazos y era acompañada de dos ángeles. Ella los confortó y les enseñó como hervir las hojas de los árboles para usarlos como medicina.

La Santísima Madre siguió apareciendo durante los 100 años de persecución en ese mismo lugar, donde se había levantado una pequeña capilla. Después de la persecución, en 1886 se edificó la iglesia de Nuestra Señora de La Vang, la que fue destruida en la guerra de Vietnam. En el año 2000 se bendijo en el mismo lugar un nuevo santuario, junto con un seminario.

In Christ / En Cristo,
Fr. Cal Christiansen

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