Groundbreaking ceremonies were held Sunday for the first new church to be built in the Diocese of Lafayette in 40 years.
St. Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions Parish will primarily serve the needs of Acadiana's growing Vietnamese community, and will become the 122nd church parish in the Diocese. It is named in honor of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, a Vietnamese priest, martyr and saint who was tortured and beheaded in 1839 for refusing to renounce his Catholic faith.
"When we first came to America, especially my dad we wished to have a chapel or a church so that we can celebrate our mass in Vietnamese and for our children to understand their culture and also serve as a focal point where we meet for happiness or for sadness," said Derek Nguyen, vice chairman.
The ceremonies started at midday Sunday, with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Douglas Deshotel at the Vietnamese Community Center in Abbeville. Fr. James Nguyen, the founding pastor of the new parish, joined the Bishop in the Mass. Following the Mass, those in attendance walked to the location of the new church, adjacent to the Community Center, and the groundbreaking ceremonies were held.
"St. Andrew Dung-lac will be established as a personal, non-territorial parish. A personal parish is established to meet the needs of a particular group in a diocese. The Vietnamese community is a vibrant and growing ethnic group in Acadiana, and their Catholic faith is intimately connected to the Vietnamese culture," the Bishop says.
According to the Diocese website, St. Andrew Dung-Lac was "a Vietnamese priest, martyr and saint who was brutally tortured and beheaded on December 21, 1839 for refusing to renounce his Catholic faith. In all, 117 gave their lives for Christ; 96 were native Vietnamese: 37 priests and 59 lay people (some of whom were catechists). One was a lay woman and mother of 6 children. Twenty-one were European missionaries (including 6 bishops). The ancient adage that, “The blood of martyrs is the seedbed of the Church,” proved true once again as the persecution had the contrary effect of rousing even greater faith among thousands of Vietnamese Catholics who died for their faith over the past three centuries."