Last weekend I had the opportunity to participate in a very special event in the life of the Church in Southern
California. It was the solemn blessing and dedication of the new Shrine of our Lady of La Vang at the Christ Cathedral in
the Diocese of Orange. His Excellency, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, was the
presider, and many bishops and religious superiors from the West Coast were present.
The presence of that new Shrine, named after the Patroness of Vietnam, marks a major milestone in the history and
growth of the Vietnamese American Catholic Community in the United States. I was honored to be invited by the Bishop of Orange to offer the address of the Apostolic Nuncio in Vietnamese to an assembly of about ten thousand people who have gathered for the occasion.
It was very moving for me to witness the trong faith and ardent devotion of so many of my own people who,
despite tremendous difficulties in their lives, never give up their faith. The Vietnamese people, like many other ethnic
groups that make up the diversity of our American society, have persevered through a lot of suffering to arrive at
where they are today. One of the greatest blessings that this group of people has brought to the American Church is
their active and vibrant faith. This is evident even in our own diocese and parish, where the Vietnamese community
continues to enrich us with not only their beautiful liturgy, customs and traditions, but also their apostolic zeal and
numerous priestly vocations.
As I made my first pilgrimage to what is supposedly the world largest Shrine dedicated to Our Lady of La Vang, I have
entrusted our own parish community, and each family within it, to the divine protection of the Blessed Mother.
I prayed that she who had appeared in La Vang to comfort and heal the Vietnamese faithful during the time of religious
persecution in the 18th century would bless us with the same comfort and healing in our time of need today.
Commending you to the maternal care of Our Lady of La Vang, I wish you all a very peaceful weekend. Be assured of
my special remembrance at the Altar.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Msgr. Cuong M. Pham