Written by: Marierose Hoang
What is a better way to start the month of May, a month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, than joining the Asian and Pacific Island Catholics for Mary annual pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC.
It started with a beautiful morning with much anticipation as I joined other members of the Holy Martyrs of Vietnam parish in Arlington on a hired school bus for a 45 minute ride. We were one of the first groups to arrive at the Basilica and were promptly greeted by a jubilant Rev. Msgr. Vito A Buonanno (Director of Pilgrimages) whom at first I did not even recognize. There was a sense of a true pilgrimage as we gathered on the side steps of the Basilica for a quick banh mi thit (traditional Vietnamese Pork Roll Sandwich) lunch. Happy faces were everywhere.
I am particularly proud of our youth group, clad in their brand new traditional Vietnamese outfits, which performed the pilgrimage’s opening Welcoming Drums. There were close to 20 different processions with more than 10 Asian and Pacific Island churches and communities coming as far as North Carolina and New York. The atmosphere was filled with excitement but nevertheless still remained solemn as each procession entered the sanctuary. I cannot help but feel so elated, joyful and grateful for being able to partake in this special annual event. From the Call to Prayer (Sacred songs and movements) to the Rosary recited and led by different communities, the pilgrimage truly reflects an unprecedented united front for all Asian and Pacific Island Catholics. The Mass was celebrated by the newly appointed auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonvile and joined by many members of the clergy. The wonderful performance of the children choir of Our Lady of Viet Nam Catholic Church, Maryland added to the richness of our diverse Asian community.
This 13th Asian and Pacific Island Catholics for Mary Pilgrimage so well attended, it truly served as a testimony of our devotion to the Blessed Mother. It was a true testament that our Catholic faith is alive and growing!
*All photos in this post are property of the Archdiocese of Washington