THE SEED OF OUR JOY AND THE SEASON OF SALVATION
Dear Brethren in Christ,
How can we ever give thanks enough to the Lord for our salvation when the Lord himself has become one of us and lived among us? The Season of Christmas heralds the joy spreading far and deep into the endless universe. In this moment the Savior of the world is conceived. The Lord is ready to sow his joy and his salvation in the hearts of men and women, young and old, people from all walks of life from the village to the city. Our heavenly Father has prepared well the seed of joyous salvation to fulfill the desire of every soul in his own time. We stand in awe at what God can do in the midst of the evolving world and changing humanity.
This Christmas, we are even more grateful for what we have had over the last 110 years at Our Lady of Mount Virgin (OLMV). Under the patronage of our beloved Lady, we have been blessed with so many faithful immigrants who have come here to find a home and to make a home while trying to settle in a new land and a new culture with little of what we now have available to us.
Since 1911 this church has been a spiritual home for Catholics from Europe, especially Italians and their descendants. We built this church from the ground up, from one generation to the next, from an orchard to a church with a school and a hall, now shared with a preschool and daycare, middle schools, and with other community groups for short term use. The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Virgin and the Italia Festival continue to celebrate the spirit and the charism of the founders annually.
In 1975 the church started a new phase, welcoming a new group of Catholic faithful who migrated here from even further than Italy: from the kingdom of Laos, speaking Khmu, Lamed, Hmong, and Laotian. OLMV became a center for job skills and language training for these new-comers who now have settled successfully and given witness to the Gospel like the Holy Martyrs of Laos – Blessed Joseph Thao Tien and the 16 Companions.
In 1982 the church again extended its welcome to Catholic faithful from Hong Kong, Taiwan and China. We gather to celebrate our faith in Cantonese, Mandarin, and English. We baptize our children, confirm our young, marry our loving couples, have receptions after Mass, and celebrate Lunar New Year with a taste of Chinese culture every year. We dig deep into our faith journey and learn the heroic lives of the Holy Martyrs of China – St. Augustin Zhao Rong and 119 Companions.
Starting in 2014 the church turned again to welcome Catholic faithful from Vietnam, who have been settled in the Seattle Metropolitan area since 1975. We come to celebrate the gift of our faith with generations in our families. We rebuilt the parish with fellow parishioners from the roof to the grounds, from the exterior to the interior. We restored the Icon of Our Lady of Mount Virgin at the center of the church and celebrate the Parish Annual Patroness Feast, including the Rosary and Marian procession, in various tongues and with many flavors! We walk in the footsteps of the Holy Martyrs of Vietnam – St. Andrew Dung Lac and 116 Companions.
In April 2021, the start of the second pandemic year, we were called by the Archdiocese of Seattle to enter a totally new phase, addressing the need to consolidate parish resources, and to strategically carry out Christ’s mission in the local Church. We are challenged to merge and integrate our parish with other faith communities and to carry on our charism in the face of parish closure.
This Christmas will be a very unusual and perhaps more difficult time for the seed of our joy and salvation to take root; yet we can respond in such a way that allows those roots to penetrate even deeper and stronger into our hearts. We will prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior with fasting and prayer. Like John the Baptist, we will offer our hungry stomach for the coming of the Lord and will elevate our anguished minds to seek the divine will. Like Blessed Mary, we will make our empty belly into the virgin womb, so that the Holy Spirit may bring the Savior of the world into our heart. We call upon Our Lady of Mt. Virgin one more time to intercede for our ever-changing landscape and the church in the midst of the passing universe back to its seed of joy and season of salvation. Oh, what a coming Christmas of 2021!
Fr. Hung Nguyen
OLMV, pray for us!