The Diocese of Orange today announced plans to build a shrine to Our Lady of La Vang on the campus of Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA.
The community of Vietnamese-American Catholics, many of whom fled Vietnam 40 years ago and found refuge in the homes and churches of Orange County Catholics, have pledged to raise funds to build the shrine. It will become part of the planned Marian Court to be located in the plaza, just outside of the cathedral.
Bishop Vann made the announcement in a morning press conference held in the Cultural Center at Christ Cathedral and noted the many contributions of the Vietnamese-American community to the diocese.
“In my time as Bishop of the Diocese of Orange, I have been inspired by the faith and energy of the Vietnamese people. They truly place faith in God at the heart of all they do,” Bishop Vann said. “It is an honor to join them in working to build a fitting monument of their struggles, faith and community here at the center of our diocese.”
Rev. Tuyen Nguyen, pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish, recounted the persecution that Vietnamese endured in Vietnam under an anti-Catholic regime and the apparition in which the Virgin Mary appeared, holding the infant Jesus, and offered hope and healing to the people who fled to La Vang. The shrine is intended to commemorate that apparition and to provide a place for all, including Vietnamese Catholics, to honor Our Lady of La Vang.
A committee of prominent Vietnamese-American business and community leaders has been established to lead the project and a design team has been assembled that includes: Trung Tran, architect, GSD, Vietnam; Aaron Torrence, AIA, Torrence Architects; Do Cung, conceptual design and Rev. Martin Lam Nguyen, art professor, University of Notre Dame.
Cindy Bobruk, executive director of the Orange Catholic Foundation, explained that the fundraising goal for the first phase of the project is $10 million. “More than 300 families have already raised $1.5 million to seed construction,” she said. Outreach will continue to the 15 Vietnamese parishes in the diocese.
Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector and Episcopal Vicar at Christ Cathedral, said that the timeline for breaking ground for the shrine will depend on the completion of the cathedral and fundraising efforts, but that design plans would likely be submitted to the city of Garden Grove for approval by the end of December.