By Roberta Ward
Bishop Patrick J. McGrath announced April 28, at a Mass at a temporary worship site for St. Patrick Proto-Cathedral Parish, that the parish would now be named after Our Lady of La Vang, highlighting the fact that the parish is already a personal parish for Vietnamese Catholics.
“I have today signed a decree to rename the parish,” he announced.
St. Patrick Church had a devastating fire last Aug. 30 and the facility has been unusable since.
Bishop McGrath noted, “The fire devastated us all, but it was a far more personal tragedy to all parishioners of the parish. The entire diocese has grieved with them. But as people of hope and faith, we know that the Lord turns the darkness of loss into the bright promise of new life.
“As Saint Patrick Proto-Cathedral Parish becomes Our Lady of La Vang Parish, we will not diminish our historic commitment to full ministry to all of the people of the parish, and that ministry will be in Vietnamese, in Spanish and in English,” the bishop said. “It is with great pleasure that we continue to meet the growing needs of all ethnic communities in the Diocese of San Jose.”
Bishop McGrath said, “We have witnessed significant growth in our Vietnamese-American community,” which, “in Santa Clara County represents the second largest Vietnamese-American population in United States counties with over 125,695, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. Today, 100,486 Vietnamese-Americans call the City of San Jose their home.” This represents the largest population of Vietnamese-Americans in the U.S.
“This is a unique time in our history,” the bishop continued. The destruction of the church that served as our first cathedral results in there no longer being a proto-cathedral” in the diocese.
He said the necessity of building a new church that can meet the needs of what is a very large parish must address reality in the present day as planning gets underway to build a new church structure.
new church will be a large chapel that will be named in honor of Saint Patrick, as a perpetual reminder of the parish’s past,” Bishop McGrath said. “The parish school will continue to bear the name of Saint Patrick.”
The bishop explained that he had given much consideration to renaming the parish “to reflect the fact that the large majority of parishioners are Vietnamese. Father Loi has surveyed the Hispanic, English-speaking and Vietnamese parishioners.
“Of the 2300 surveys completed at Sunday Mass, 86 percent were in favor of the change of name. I have consulted with the Council of Priests and other advisors, who have agreed that this change is a recognition of the new reality in which we live,” Bishop McGrath stated.
Father Peter-Loi Huynh is pastor of the parish since 2011. Father Hao Dinh, pastor of Holy Family Parish in San Jose, serves as Vicar for Vietnamese for the diocese.
Father Dinh commented, “Our Lady of La Vang, who appeared to persecuted Catholics in Vietnam in 1798, promised help and comfort to those who sought refuge in her. As refugees and immigrants, we are truly blessed to have found a home in this valley where people of different backgrounds are welcomed. As Catholics we are grateful to this local Church, to its leaders, especially Bishop Emeritus Pierre DuMaine and Bishop Patrick McGrath, for their support and care over the years.
“The renaming of St. Patrick to Our Lady of La Vang Parish is another statement of confidence in our local Vietnamese-American Catholic community and a recognition of the gifts they have contributed to the local dioceses of San Francisco and San Jose for nearly four decades: faith, cultural traditions, vocations.
“In the context of this Year of Faith, our Blessed Mother under the title of Our Lady of La Vang can encourage us in our journey of faith when we face challenges in our daily living,” Father Dinh said.