South Carolina’s Vietnamese Catholic Community Dedicates New Church

Maria Hayes Friar News

David Phan celebrates Mass at the new Our Lady of La Vang Church in

David Phan celebrates Mass at the new Our Lady of La Vang Church in South Carolina. (Photo courtesy of Nghia)

GREER, S.C. — After decades of not having a permanent home, the Vietnamese Catholic parish of Our Lady of La Vang in Upstate South Carolina finally has a church – a building that formerly housed a Baptist community.

A group of roughly 450 people gathered on Nov. 26 for the dedication of the new Our Lady of La Vang Church in Greer, roughly 14 miles east of the Province’s St. Anthony of Padua Church in Greenville, S.C. Bishop Robert Guglielmone of Charleston, S.C., was principal celebrant of the Mass of Celebration.

“This is a place where the Vietnamese people can feel at home – a home far away from home,” said David Phan, OFM, whom Holy Name Province is recommending to the bishop of Charleston to serve as pastor of the new diocesan parish, in an interview with The Miscellany. “I hope this place will nurture our faith, and strengthen our gifts, our talents and our value, so that we might give that to the larger Church. I believe the Vietnamese, who have come from far away, now feel a great freedom to practice and nourish their faith and continue to hand it down to the next generation.”

Our Lady of La Vang Parish was founded in 2015 as a quasi-parish. At the time, the community was meeting at Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, with more than 125 families attending Mass and participating in events, according to The Miscellany. The size of the community has grown through established families and their relatives who immigrate to the United States.

The new church property and building previously belonged to a Baptist church and was sold to the parish earlier this year. The existing structure was then renovated to fit the new community’s needs.

David, right, and his brother, Nghia Phan, left,

David, second from right, and his brother, Nghia Phan, second from left, celebrate the dedication of the church with guests. (Photo courtesy of Nghia)

“This is a place where praise has been offered to God for many, many years in another Christian community,” said Bishop Guglielmone in his homily. “But it became an opportunity for the Vietnamese peoples in this part of the diocese to find a home. And what a beautiful home you have created – a home for Catholic worship, a home that certainly reflects the needs of this Vietnamese community to come week after week, day after day, to praise God.”

The bishop continued, “People have looked at this community and said very, very clearly that these people are dedicated to our Catholic faith and dedicated to spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

“We hope to strengthen our gifts to give to the larger Church,” said David, who is stationed at St. Anthony’s in Greenville. “We have a unique way of worshipping, and we want to hand down our faith to our children so they can be strong in it. We hope that our mission can increase vocations to support and serve the Church and strengthen family life.”

Among those in attendance at the dedication and Mass of Celebration were Robert Menard, OFM, Dac Tran, OFM, Patrick Tuttle, OFM, and David’s blood brother, Fr. Nghia Phan, OFM, of St. Barbara Province. The day was immediately followed by Sunday’s grand feast of the Vietnamese Martyrs.

Holy Name Province friars have ministered to the Vietnamese Catholic community in Greenville and Spartanburg counties for 16 years. Dac Tran, OFM, began this ministry and continued it for 10 years; Khoa Nguyen, OFM, served for one year; and David, who is vicar for Vietnamese Catholics in the Diocese of Charleston, has been ministering here for the past five.

Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.

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