For the first time in 40 years, the Diocese will establish a new Catholic church parish. St. Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions Parish will be established under the patronage of a Vietnamese priest, martyr and saint who was brutally tortured and beheaded on December 21, 1839 for refusing to renounce his Catholic faith. In all 117 gave their lives for Christ; 96 were native Vietnamese: 37 priests and 59 lay people (some of whom were catechists). One was a lay woman and mother of 6 children. Twenty-one were European missionaries (including 6 bishops). The ancient adage that, “The blood of martyrs is the seedbed of the Church,” proved true once again as the persecution had the contrary effect of rousing even greater faith among thousands of Vietnamese Catholics who died for their faith over the past three centuries. The parishioners of the new parish follow devotedly in this same line of witnesses. The Vietnamese elders of this parish crossed 8,000 miles of ocean to our diocese as living seeds of faith. Together with their children and grandchildren they now join together to form a new parish family. St. Andrew Dung-Lac was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1900 and canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1988.
The 122nd parish of the Diocese of Lafayette will be formally established on Tuesday, November 24, 2020, the feast day of St. Andrew Dung-Lac. However, a larger weekend Mass celebrating the new parish will be held at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, November 22 at the Vietnamese Community Center in Abbeville, located on LaFitte Road off the Highway 14 bypass. Bishop Douglas Deshotel will celebrate the Mass, assisted by Fr. James Nguyen, the founding pastor of the new parish. Groundbreaking for construction of the new church is expected to begin in the near future. The church will be built adjacent to the current Vietnamese Community Center.
Bishop Deshotel said “St. Andrew Dung Lac will be established as a personal, non-territorial parish. A personal parish is established to meet the spiritual and cultural needs of a group in a Diocese. The Vietnamese community is a vibrant and growing ethnic group in Acadiana and their Catholic faith is intimately connected to the Vietnamese culture. It is a non-territorial parish, meaning that it will serve Vietnamese Catholics throughout the Diocese of Lafayette. St. Andrew Dung Lac and his companions were martyred because they would not renounce their Catholic faith in the midst of the worst kind of violence and intimidation. The saints inspire us to never give up, and to be enthusiastic about our faith even in the midst of challenging and difficult circumstances in our lives. I pray that by establishing this parish, Vietnamese in the Diocese of Lafayette will grow in their spiritual lives and be even greater witnesses to their Catholic faith in the Diocese of Lafayette.”