GREENVILLE — Hundreds of Vietnamese-American Cath-olics from the Upstate gathered at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish for the three-day “Seminar in the Spirit,” a retreat led by a priest and team from California. If participants expected serene prayer and meditation, they were in for a surprise.
From the beginning on Friday night, Sept. 16, to the ending ceremonial Mass on Sunday, the halls of Our Lady of the Rosary were rocking with singing and praise, preaching and response, laughter and tears. Among those crying was University of South Carolina freshman Tuyet Vo, who felt the presence of God in a moment that moved her to tears of joy.
“All of a sudden, I could see God,” Vo said. “I knew that God was with me; I was full of the Holy Spirit.”
Vo said she came to understand in a real way the measure of the sacrifice Christ had made for humanity and felt completely happy.
There were many other testimonials to the effect of the spiritual healing service led by Father Minh Bui over the weekend — and that was exactly what he had expected.
“The purpose of this ‘Seminar in the Spirit’ is to experience God’s divine healings and presence, to welcome and accept Jesus Christ, … and to discover and release the … gifts of the Holy Spirit in each of us,” Father Minh said.
The Orange County, Calif., priest said that it is the responsibility of all Catholics to give God praise. One of the five team members who crossed the country to minister to the Vietnamese community at Our Lady of the Rosary, Christine Huyen, said that the trip to Greenville proved that local Catholics were ready to fulfill that responsibility.
“I have never seen Vietnamese people so strong,” Huyen said. “I feel that God has blessed this parish so much.”
One parishioner who was impressed by what he witnessed at the retreat was Trung Le. He said that the participants were rejuvenated by the experience.
“On Friday, the people looked weary and depressed. Now they feel blessed,” Trung said.
His pastor, Franciscan Father Dac T. Tran, called it “love energy.” Father Tran said that the turnout and response to the healing message was greater than he had hoped. Many people of all ages gave testimonials to the impact of the spiritual healing services, according to parishioner Tranh Bui, and the Saturday night service was so popular the people stayed until almost midnight.
“They enjoyed it and didn’t want to go home,” Bui said. “We realized that God is real.”
Children of the parish also enjoyed the services, singing and dancing. “Love energy” was obvious in them, and in their parents and grandparents who joined them in singing praise songs. Father Bui said that the faith of Vietnamese-American Catholics all across the nation is powerful and growing. The Vietnamese culture has a tradition of reverence to ancestors, and this includes reverence to the approximately 300,000 Vietnamese martyrs who died since Christianity came to Indochina in 1533, many during the Communist-led terrors of the 20th century. Pope John Paul II canonized 117 of them, mostly ordinary Vietnamese Catholics.
“We pray that we also are witnesses of Christ’s love as our ancestors were,” the retreat master said. “Right now I see that Vietnamese Catholics are strong in our faith and communities.”