I recently had the delightful experience of participating once again at the national conference for Vietnamese catechists. Held every other year, Vietnamese catechists—many of them of high school or college age—gather in a parish hall in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to celebrate their Vietnamese culture, pray, sing, eat great food, and –oh yeah—learn how to be better catechists.

I have spoken at this event once every other year for the last fourteen years. I have watched young boys and girls who attended the first conference now grown to be men and women with children now of their own, along with many who are now women religious.

Attending this conference is always a highlight of my year. While I must admit how much I love Vietnamese food, that’s actually not why I relish the time I spend with this group. What really appeals to me is the sense of community, the sense of faith that one experiences at this event. The music is an invitation to deep meditative prayer because of its beauty. The catechesis is as solid as one might experience at a diocesan or national event—the keynote speaker this time was a Vietnamese priest who is the former rector of the Pontifical Biblical school in Jerusalem. The community spirit that is shown is a delight to behold, with singing, clapping, and encouragement.

Up to now this has been simply a positive report of a catechetical conference sponsored by a specific culture group. For the rest of the article I’d like to use this experience to offer a few thoughts about what I’ve learned about culture from my years working with the Vietnamese.

Continue reding at FCH’s website.

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