Our Lady of La Vang becomes a mission of the Diocese of Arlington

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The Our Lady of La Vang Catholic community was established as a mission of Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Church in Arlington by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge at a Mass at St. Veronica Church in Chantilly Sept. 3.

After greeting the community, Bishop Burbidge read the official decree, which was met with thunderous applause.

The decree reads in part, “Therefore, I, Michael Francis Burbidge, Bishop of Arlington, after careful reflection and prayer, in accord with the appropriate precepts of the Code of Canon Law, do hereby establish and erect the Mission Church of Our Lady of La Vang within the personal parish of Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Church, in the Diocese of Arlington.”

The Bishop spoke about the new mission at the beginning of his homily.

 

“That sounds great to say (Our Lady of La Vang Mission),” said Bishop Burbidge. “I know that this day has been a long time coming and you've showed great patience and perseverance, trust and dedication, and I am so very grateful for the gift that you are to our church.”

The joy of the news was heard throughout the church and echoed in several comments.

“This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to our community,” said Thinh Dinh. “We have been pushing and pushing and finally the last two years we made a giant leap. I think that is what makes this a great day for us.”

Lan Nguyen, who represents the community for the diocesan multicultural council, said it is a joy for her community. “We hope that we don't disappoint (Bishop Burbidge),” she said. “We feel very blessed and are going to do our best to have a great community in God."

“We have been working so hard to make it a mission and everyone is very pleased with the hard work they have done,” said Chau Tran, one of the youths in the community.

For years, families in the Chantilly area and beyond had to drive as much as 90 minutes to Arlington to attend a Vietnamese Mass. In 2006, they were able to attend a Vietnamese Mass at St. Thomas à Becket Church in Reston. Father Thomas P. Ferguson, vicar general and pastor of Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria, was pastor of the Reston parish in those days.

He said it is a highlight of the history of the diocese that former Arlington Bishop Thomas J. Welsh had welcomed Vietnamese refugees in the 1970s and worked to meet their spiritual needs.

When the original congregation of 30 families from the Chantilly area outgrew St. Thomas à Becket, they moved to their current location at St. Veronica Church in 2011.

Now, with the establishment of the mission as a Vietnamese Catholic community, it will serve the needs of the people more effectively, said Father Ferguson.

The establishment of the mission is a transitional period in the life of the community and an intermediate stage in the process of perhaps becoming a new parish, he said.

Dominican Father Luan Pho will remain parochial vicar of Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Church in Arlington with special care of the new mission.

“We are happy it is happening,” Father Pho said. “There is still a lot of work to do to minister to the people. We want to create a lot of programs for the young people. I want to be there more for the people in Chantilly.” Father Pho drives from Arlington to Chantilly every time there is an event.

Our Lady of La Vang, with 422 registered families, has religious education classes, a monthly holy hour, three choirs, a Catholic Mothers Association, a Knights of Columbus council, Cursillo, a Eucharistic Youth Movement, and Vietnamese school.

Corinne Monogue, diocesan director of Multicultural Ministries, said becoming a mission is possible with the strong foundation of those Catholic families and the support of the parishioners at Holy Martyrs of Vietnam who started this community.

“They have grown so quickly and they are a model to show how through faith, prayer and patience you can grow from 30 families to an official diocesan mission as a cultural Catholic community,” she said.

“It is a testament to their strong faith and dedication to the teachings of Christ.”

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017

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