40th Annual Marian Days Carthage, Missouri, Aug. 3-6, 2017By: The Mirror staff Carthage MO
Carthage Congregation prepares for Marian Days
When Saigon fell in 1975 during the Vietnam war, Fr. Dominic Maria Tran Dinh Thu, put his faith and confidence in God as he and 170 other priests prepared to escape the country.
“Father knew South Vietnam would fall, and with the history of religious persecution, he knew the congregation could be erased under communism,” said Fr. Phillip Do, a member of the religious Congregation of the Mother Coredemptrix in Carthage, which was founded in 1953.
“Father put his faith and confidence in God and set up a way for all of them to escape” he said.
The way of escape came in the form of an American ship, but the ship could not take all 170 members.
“The group had to split up, one half of the group came to America and ended up in Fort Chaffee, AR, the other half had to wait,” said Fr. Do.
The waiting paid off because soon Card. Bernard Law, then Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, sponsored the rest of the men and brought them to Carthage, MO, where the Congregation of the Mother Coredemprix was formed and settled as the US Assumption Province since 1975.
Today, the congregation is made up of more than 120 priests and brothers whose main purpose is to serve the Vietnamese Community.
“When we were established, there were not many Vietnamese priests in the United States,” Fr. Do said. “Our mission is to serve the Vietnamese community, we do that through parish ministry, and other events like Marian Days.”
“Marian Days is a four-day weekend celebration, in honor of our Lady, the Virgin Mary, and it includes a lot of activities: first of all, Masses, conferences, a lot of things for the family, youth,” said Fr. John Tran, CMC, who brings a large group of pilgrims to Marian Days each year from the parish he serves in southeast Texas. “We have conferences, Masses, a lot of spiritual celebrations. It is also a cultural gathering for the Vietnamese people, and their families.”
This year marks the 40th celebration of Marian Days, an annual event that started out as a one-day retreat has grown to four days and some 70,000 participants each first weekend in August.
The congregation’s central location in Carthage, helps with the success of the festival.
“If the congregation was not located here, this would not work,” Fr. Do said. “People come from all over the country to this one central location, it’s a place in the middle. We didn’t pick the location, God put us here.”
The city of Carthage is very welcoming. The otherwise quiet farming community opens up homes for the in flux of people coming into town for Marian Days, and allow visitors to camp in the park and on campus at the Congregation of Mother Coredemptrix.
“City council is very supportive of our efforts,” Fr. Do said.
This year, Marian Days will take place from Aug. 3-6 and will have a similar feel as previous years.
“The first Marian Days celebration started out as a way for the Vietnamese to gather together, to pray, and to give thanks for the many blessings that God has bestowed on us, the freedom to live in the United States,” said Fr. Tran.
“It’s a very organized event, people from around the world come celebrate it,” said Fr. Tran.
“Marian Days fulfills a spiritual need for the people, they come here to relax,” said Fr. Tran. “They come to pray with God, it’s a time to reconnect faith, life, and the best thing for me as a priest is to see people go to confession, to make amends with God, that’s the best thing for me at Marian Days.”
Highlights of the weekend include the Saturday night procession of our Lady around the city, which is about two miles long and celebrated by Bp. Edward M. Rice. With this being the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Mary at Fatima, greater numbers may participate.
“We would like all the local people surrounding this event to come and experience our culture, not just our faith, but our culture, our food, and the joy and closeness of the Vietnamese people,” Fr. Tran said.
“Thank you for the support for this Catholic community, and this city, and the surrounding cities like Springfield also, especially all the people from the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, the Bishop, and all the clergy, thank you very much,” Fr. Tran said.