Our Lady of Lavang photo
Youngsters reach out to feel feathery tufts during the lion dance, a tradition that is believed to ward off evil spirits.
Our Lady of Lavang photo

Youngsters reach out to feel feathery tufts during the lion dance, a tradition that is believed to ward off evil spirits.

Portland’s Southeast Asian Vicariate ushered in the year of the cat at a Lunar New Year Mass Feb. 2.

Our Lady of Lavang Church precedes the special celebration of the Eucharist with a traditional ancestral homage ceremony.

Archbishop John Vlazny concelebrated Mass with Lavang pastor, Domus Dei Father Bartholomew Dat Pham, joined by parochial vicars Father Paul Binh Cao and Father Peter Khoi-Anh Doan, also Domus Dei priests.

The New Year’s Mass is a blend of old and new and Vietnamese and American culture. Many of the women wear the ao dai, the long fitted silky tunic over filmy trousers. Many of the children are dressed in vividly colored outfits, with hats or headbands to match.

Lunar New Year is not a religious event, but the Catholic Vietnamese community blends the secular with religious during the festive time of year.

Following the Mass, members of the parish convene for a celebration with traditional food and lion and dragon dances.

In the Chinese calendar, this year, in the second of the 12-animal-sign Zodiac, is the year of the rabbit. In Vietnam, the rabbit is replaced by the cat.