|7/17/2017 11:17:00 AM|
Parish celebrates freedom, attracts many visitors
|Thi Pham/Catholic Sentinel|
John Mankowski was a Marine who fought in Vietnam and Mary Mankowski was a nurse who served refugees coming off boats. The pair live near Our Lady of Lavang and came to the parish’s freedom celebration June 30.
Thi PhamFor the past 41 years, the Vietnamese community has come together on the weekend before July Fourth to celebrate and give thanks for God’s gifts.
Many out-of-town families made the annual pilgrimage to Our Lady of Lavang Parish in Northeast Portland, a tradition that started with their loved ones many years ago. The June 30 Corpus Christi procession around the neighborhood surrounding St. Rose of Lima Parish in Northeast Portland was no less zealous and solemn. The procession trail was greeted and watched by passersby and home owners. Some even joined in the procession. Father Matt Libra, pastor at St. Rose, recited the rosary along with those in the procession.
Among those who came to the ceremonies was John Mankowski, a former Marine who served and was injured by a rocket-propelled grenade in a combat mission in 1968 in Phu Bai, Vietnam. This was Mankowski’s second visit to Our Lady of Lavang.
He says he was touched and overwhelmed by the crowd and the warm reception. John attended the event alone the year before, but this year brought his wife, Mary. Mary was a nurse sailor in Camp Pendleton during the era when refugees from Vietnam were arriving in boats. John and Mary met and married after the Vietnam War. They’ve lived in the neighborhood around the Vietnamese parish for the past five years and decided to reach out and be part of the Freedom Mass and the Vietnamese community.
“It’s beautiful: The dance, the Mass. [I’m] so glad we have the freedom to worship God freely,” said Mankowski.
“I love the way [the Vietnamese parish is] preserving the culture, teaching the children of their faith, and the close-knit community,” added Mary.
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