Dear brothers and sisters,
The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us. It is a time in America when people of all faiths express their appreciation for God’s abundant gifts, including life, faith, family, friends, country and the food many of us enjoy around a table filled with love and joy. We remember that the blessings we experience in life are not a result of our works and efforts alone. We depend on a mighty God who provides and guides!
One of the very first lessons we teach our young children is the importance of being thankful. I have no doubt God, our Heavenly Father, takes great joy in hearing words of thanks from the grateful hearts of His children. St. Paul affirms, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Thus it is essential to give thanks “in everything” that we go through, although there are many things we may find challenging to be thankful for, such as the death of a loved one, the illness that comes on suddenly, the suffering of human relationships, or the daily stress over which we have little control. Nevertheless, we can still be thankful in those circumstances knowing that God will help us go through that journey.
As the beautiful old hymn “Count Your Blessings” goes, I invite you to “count your blessings; name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God has done.” In counting my own blessings, I cannot help but recall the faces of so many of you in this parish—the priests, deacons, staff, leaders and lay faithful— who have been a godsend to me in many ways. Please know that I am grateful for each of you for your loving support to me and to our parish family.
In that spirit of thanksgiving, I invite you all to join us this Thursday, November 24, at 9:00am in the upper church for our Annual Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving to the Lord! Your evening meal at home with your loved ones will be much more meaningful when you can count blessings received both from the Lord’s Table and from the family’s table.
And in the same spirit of Thanksgiving, I invite you to join us next Sunday, November 27, when the Vietnamese Apostolate of our parish will celebrate the 35th Anniversary of its Founding with a Solemn Anniversary Mass at 3:00pm, followed by a formal reception opened to the whole parish at 5pm in the Institute. This joyful occasion will coincide with the Feast of St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his Companions, the 117 Vietnamese Martyrs who represent more than 300,000 Catholic faithful who suffered persecution and martyrdom for their faith during the 17th and 18th centuries, giving rise to the robust Catholic presence in Vietnam and abroad, especially in America, the home of many Vietnamese Catholic immigrants.
In our parish, the Vietnamese community has been an integral part for many years. It has contributed many priestly and religious vocations to our local Church. On this significant milestone, we will give thanks to God with a Solemn Mass, which will begin at 3:00pm with the Procession of the Relics of the Vietnamese Martyrs from Mary’s Garden (between the Rectory and the School building) into the church. A special Decree from the Vatican Apostolic Penitentiary will be proclaimed, granting participants a Plenary Indulgence as a spiritual gift from our Holy Father Pope Francis. After Mass, we invite you to join us for further festivities, consisting of a formal reception with international food, music and cultural performances. We will be honored by the presence of our bishops as well as many guest priests, seminarians, religious and lay faithful.
I wish to thank the leaders of our parish groups and ministries who have worked hard together to coordinate various activities for this event. I am personally grateful to those who will help organize the special liturgy next Sunday, those who will set up and decorate the hall, and those who will provide the international food, drinks and entertainment. I appreciate the youth and young adults in our Vietnamese and Spanish speaking communities, who have been enthusiastically practicing beautiful dances and cultural performances that will delight us. I am sure that this event will be an additional thanksgiving event unique to our multi-cultural parish. I look forward to seeing everyone there.
A Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Msgr. Cuong M. Pham