More than 60,000 Vietnamese Catholics gathered in Carthage, Missouri for the Marian Days festival, one of the largest Catholic gatherings in the United States. The annual event allows participants to worship and reunite with friends and family.
The 33rd celebration of the festival took place from August 5 to 8. It included Mass and other religious services, conferences, music, food and its massive annual Marian procession. The festival was held at the campus of the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix (CMC)
Bishop John Leibrecht of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau celebrated the opening Mass.
Ly Nguyen, a 16-year-old first generation American, told the Joplin Globe that at the festival she isn’t in the minority.
“Being Vietnamese and being Catholic, it’s a big part of who I am, and that’s not something a lot of high school kids get,” she continued.
Nguyen said she looks forward to walking in the procession every year and her family sends photos back to her grandmother and cousins in Vietnam.
In the procession, pilgrims sang, chanted and carried banners and flags showing the names of their groups or where they were from. Some of the cities represented included Detroit, Michigan; Sarasota, Florida; and Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Joplin Globe reports.
Carthage residents Randy and Robin Dickerson were among the locals who watched the procession. They described the singing as a great “showing of faith.”
Festival participant Mo Bui, who has been visiting Marian Days for more than 30 years, compared the event to a family reunion.
“Some people, we haven’t seen since we left Vietnam in 1975,” she commented.
Marian Days began in the late 1970s after more than 185 Vietnamese refugees from Saigon were granted the use of the vacant seminary.