Calgary, Canada: Vietnamese Community Builds New Shrine to Our Lady of Lavang

A shrine to Our Lady of Lavang, Vietnam, has recently been built and blessed in the parish of St. Vincent Liem in Calgary, Canada. It is the pride and joy of the Vietnamese community in the city.

Newsroom (November 9, 2021, 10:15 AM Gaudium Press) Fr. Joseph Canh Vu, the pastor of St. Francis Assisi Parish and former pastor of St. Vincent Liem Parish, says that the Blessed Virgin Mary is an important part of the Vietnamese Catholic culture and the shrine has become popular for those who want to pray there and honour the Holy Mother of God.

This shrine is devoted to a beautiful and comforting story of Our Lady, Who is said to have appeared many times in Lavang, Vietnam, in 1798.

“The Vietnamese people are fond of the devotion of the Virgin Mary in Vietnam. Families say the Rosary often before going to bed. In Vietnam, it’s a tradition to devote ourselves to the Virgin Mary”, said Fr. Joseph.

He continues: “The community is very excited. When people come to Mass, or even weekday Mass, they go to say a prayer in front of the shrine.”

St. Vincent Liem Church, which is now located in the Forest Lawn neighbourhood, was once located in Inglewood. Following years of growth in Inglewood, the church courageously decided to build a new church at its new location, at 2412 48th Street SE. The present pastor of the church is Fr. Nguyen Duc Vuong, and the associate pastor is Fr. Pham Cong Liem.

On 11 July, 2015, the new church was dedicated by Bishop Emeritus Frederick Henry of the Calgary Diocese. The church is remarkable for its grandeur and modern architecture, with its open concept, natural lighting, and the versatile design which includes a touch of the Vietnamese heritage.

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In 2009-2010, the St. Vincent Liem Parish in Inglewood began to seriously consider building a new church for practical reasons. The number of people attending Mass was increasing, and finding a parking space on the weekend was becoming increasingly more difficult.

Between 2011 and 2013, the parish began to plan the construction of a new church, and on 15 June, 2013, the construction of a new church in the Forest Lawn area was officially opened. On 16 May, 2015, after completion of the new church, the statue of Our Lady was moved and temporarily placed at the back area of the church, where parishioners could go to pray.

On March 25, 2021, the parish celebrated a Mass to commemorate the laying of the first stone to inaugurate the construction of the shrine to Our Lady. The project was completed in early October, and on 10 October, His Excellency Bishop William McGrattan officially blessed the Shrine of Our Lady of Lavang.

Myloan Dang, secretary and bookkeeper for the parish, shared that the shrine is very important to the parishioners: “From the beginning, when we moved here, we planned to build the Shrine for Our Lady of Lavang, back in 2013-14 when the church was completed. A lot of parishioners were longing to have it done. And they said they would do anything to help out whatever that is. It’s not just the people in our church. We had lots of people outside the church in the Vietnamese community who were very helpful to us. That’s what really motivated us – the people in the Vietnamese community came together and worked together to get this done.”

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As the Roman Catholic Saints website puts it “The fact that the Blessed Virgin visited a small group of Catholics in the little jungle village of Lavang, in Vietnam, in 1798, is not surprising to anyone who knows the ways of the Mother of God. She has always been faithful to Her children by grace. On one such evening, they were first frightened and then enchanted to behold a Woman and Child standing nearby in a mysterious glow of light. Simple as these people were, some among them recognized the Virgin Mother and Her Child. All listened entranced while Mary told them softly that She was fully aware of their hardships and of their chronic illness due to the contaminated water. She told them to gather certain leaves that grew near and make a strong tea of them; this would keep them healthy. Solemnly She added, ‘From this day on, prayers said on this spot will be heard – and answered.”

Compiled by Sandra Chisholm

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