“The New Year’s Mass is important for the Vietnamese people because it’s a time where they can offer praise to God and remember their ancestors who have gone before them.”
-Fr. Henry Nguyen, SCJ
Chúc mừng năm mới!
February 10-11 the parish community at St. Martin of Tours celebrated the Lunar New Year (Tết Nguyên Đán), the Year of the Dragon. Festivities began with a special New Year’s Mass on Saturday evening to kick off the celebrations.
“The New Year’s Mass is important for the Vietnamese people because it’s a time where they can offer praise to God and remember their ancestors who have gone before them,” said Fr. Henry Nguyen, SCJ, one of the concelebrants. “At the evening Mass, the faithful came in their traditional áo dài. After the final blessing, they pick their Scriptural passage from the tree, and that is the passage they’ll take with them for the year, to live with God’s words. These traditions are traditions from a homeland that many of them have left long ago.”
On Sunday, February 11, the parish hosted a festival for the greater Vietnamese community in the area, welcoming people from the Milwaukee area and beyond. Starting at 5:30 a.m., volunteers were at the church hall doing the final food preparations, including phở (beef noodle soup) or a bún bò huế (a spicier version of the beef noodle soup) and decorating.
At noon the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Group sang the American national anthem; among those present was the mayor of Franklin.
The lion dancers made their appearance and “an uproar of energy was felt through the room; it was a great way to set the stage for the afternoon,” said Fr. Henry. “Entertainment was provided by the many ministry groups at St. Martin of Tours and traditional foods were for sale, such as bánh chưng which is a square rice cake and bánh tét which is similar but in a cylindrical shape, as well as peanut candle, dried fruit, and other items.
In the evening there was a concert featuring well-known singers from the Vietnamese community that regularly perform on the national stage. The night ended with dancing to ring in the new year.
Our thanks to Br. Andy Gancarczyk, SCJ, for providing photos from the New Year’s Mass. Click here to visit the parish Facebook page to view more pictures and a video from Sunday’s events.
The Priests of the Sacred Heart have ministered to the Vietnamese Catholic community of Milwaukee at St. Martin of Tours since 2007.