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3/5/2013 9:19:00 AM
Seminary festival demonstrates unity
Mount Angel Seminary photo by Br. Lorenzo
Seminary officials have a place on stage as Vietnamese seminarians entertain during Tet.
Mount Angel Seminary photo by Br. Lorenzo
Seminary officials have a place on stage as Vietnamese seminarians entertain during Tet.
Michael Nguyen

ST. BENEDICT — Drums pounding, fireworks crackling, and children laughing were some of the sounds emanating from the typically tranquil hilltop of Mount Angel Abbey Feb. 16.

The Vietnamese community of seminarians hosted its annual Tet Festival to celebrate the Lunar New Year and the zodiac Year of the Snake.

The event started with a rare viewing of the miraculous incorruptible hand of St. Ambrose Barlow, a Benedictine martyred in England in the 17th century. Following the viewing was the main celebration: the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

After giving their full, active, and conscious participation in the Lord’s Passion, the congregation processed its way across the hilltop into the hall for a short gathering that contained festive music, delicious food, and lucky red envelopes. One of the main components of the traditional celebration was to give “lucky money” enclosed in these red envelopes to children in the hopes of ushering in a prosperous new year.

Every year the Vietnamese seminarians at Mount Angel Seminary put on this event not only to celebrate the Lunar New Year, but as a means to unite all the Vietnamese Catholics in the Archdiocese of Portland. One of the attributes of Catholicism is its unity among all Catholics because, as St. Paul said in the Letter to the Ephesians, everyone is predestined to be adopted children of God through Jesus Christ.  

“This event provides an opportunity for all the Vietnamese Catholics of the archdiocese to gather as one and put aside all their differences and to focus on what’s most important: their commonality in culture and faith,” said Minh Do, a seminarian from the Diocese of San Diego and president of the hilltop’s Vietnamese community.

Everyone was invited, but the seminarians specifically reached out to Vietnamese parishes and communities throughout the archdiocese. Six parishes and three orders of women religious partook in the unitive event. To further emphasize the theme of unity, entertainment included not only the Vietnamese community but also the Hispanics, Samoans, and Filipinos on the hilltop.

The success of the event is an example that even though everyone is innately different, those differences are petty compared to the powerful unity that all share through Jesus Christ. Mirroring the shrewdness of this year’s zodiac animal, the snake, the celebration of the Lunar New Year here on the hilltop of Mount Angel can be viewed as a mask that cleverly disguises its true purpose of living out the aspect of oneness to which the Catholic faith adheres through the threads of different cultures woven together into one fabric in Christ.

— The writer is a seminary student for the Diocese of Orange, Calif.

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