SPECIAL TO THE CATHOLIC HERALD
For more than 20 years, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has held an Annual Asian Pacific Unity Day celebrating the diversity of our local Catholic Church. This year, the Oct. 6 Mass and reception organized by the Intercultural Ministries for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee brought together Asian Pacific communities from across the diocese and joined them together in a choir that sang in more than 10 languages.
Attendees sat shoulder to shoulder in the pews, many in the traditional dress of their home countries or the home countries of their parents, a vibrant array of color that seemed to light up Mater Christi Chapel at the Mary Mother of the Church Pastoral Center. As the Liturgy of the Word was proclaimed in Tamil (India), and Mandarin (China), and the Gospel was read in English and Vietnamese, a mother leaned over to her child and told him to listen to all the different languages being spoken. “This is important,” she whispered, “we need to remember that Jesus understands and loves us all just the same.”
Kabao, a parishioner from St. Peter Claver in Sheboygan, attended the Unity Day with her children, her sisters and her mother, who came to the United States as a refugee from Thailand before Kabao was born. The family looks forward to the event every year and dons the traditional white Hmong clothes from Xieng Khuang Province, Laos. “Mom made these outfits,” Kabao said. “We think coming here is really important. It’s a great experience to come and see all the Asian Catholics. Everyone has their own different culture but we come together for Jesus at the altar.”
After Mass, the Director of Intercultural Ministries, Eva Diaz, invited everyone to a reception, presentation and blessing. Diaz encouraged those gathered to meet people from other cultures, try their food, and ask questions about how they express their Catholic Faith.
Attendees voiced their appreciation to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee for highlighting diversity and making their visibility a priority. Mina Vitangcol, whose husband directed the choir for the event said, “We need the presence of these communities in Milwaukee, and we’re lucky that we live in an archdiocese that knows how important that is for our different cultures to be visible but unified in The Church.”
In his homily, Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki congratulated the community for the demonstration of their faith, for keeping it strong, and for reflecting it in their culture and for understanding how important it is to profess the unity and oneness of His Church. He said, “Here we are today celebrating the Asian community. We come together to talk about our oneness, our oneness in the Church, our oneness before the Lord offering what we have, what God has given us, in reflection to each and every one of our cultures, to be able to go forth and say that we are one manifesting that person of Christ by who we are and by what we do. There’s a power in that that cannot be denied. There’s a power that cannot be extinguished. There’s a power that cannot be ignored.”