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Celebration recognizes gifts of Asian Catholics

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ARCHDIOCESE — The faith and gifts of Asian Catholics were celebrated Oct. 24 during the the 2010 World Mission Sunday Mass held locally at St. John the Evangelist Church in Deer Park.Approximately 350 people gathered for the celebration, sponsored by the archdiocesan Mission Office and many local Asian groups. Among the nationalities represented were Indian, Vietnamese, Filipino, Korean, Indonesian, Chinese and Japanese.

Franciscan Father Bonaventure Yujie Bai presided. Concelebrated included Father Tom Espelage, the pastor of St. John; Father Benedict Lee; Carmelite of Immaculate Mary Fathers Andrew Athapilly, Jose Shepherd and Johnson Thekkuden; Maryknoll Fathers Les Blowers and Peter Chabot, and Missionary Society of St. Thomas the Apostle Father Babu Kurian. Franciscan Father Dan Kroger was the homilist.

The language and customs of those in attendance were incorporated into the Mass in a variety of ways, such as hymns sung by Filipino and Vietnamese choirs. Gifts at the offertory included food and flowers, a tradition in many Asian cultures. During the sign of peace, members of the congregation were encouraged to greet each other in their native language.

According to Mike Gable, director of the Mission Office, the celebration was an opportunity to further the goals of the office’s Asian Solidarity Project, developed with local Asian Catholics. The goals include creating a climate of awareness, education and advocacy on Asia in our archdiocesan parishes, schools and institutions; appreciating the spiritual and cultural gifts Asian Catholics bring to the local and global church, as well as the challenges they face; developing more networking, friendships and solidarity among Asian Catholics and Catholics of all cultures; and helping Asian Catholics feel more welcomes and integrated in parishes.

The celebration was also an opportunity to acknowledge and thank the many missionaries from the archdiocese who have served in Asia over the years.

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