Dear Faithful and Friends Our Lady of Mount Virgin:
God sent us his Son to take us to the Promised Land, but first he had to travel by way of the wilderness. And for that, we are grateful beyond measure.
Prior to entering his earthly ministry to proclaim the coming of the Reign of God, Jesus was called to abandon his world: fresh fish on the shores of Galilee, vegetables and fruits at the market, the easy company of family and friends, to walk alone into the desert to face misery and scarcity. By staying in the heart of the desert for forty days and nights, by experiencing extreme privation of food, affirmation, and human affection, he was able to trace the line of his own suffering back to the original misery; and he found the one who causes it all. That one is the same Devil that brought Adam and Eve to their original fall. In his encounter with the Devil, Jesus faced the same temptation that the devil threw at Adam and Eve and that continues to harass Eve’s children to this day. Three times the Devil tempted Jesus: to chase after food to live, after the world for glory, and after a false god for self-satisfaction. Three times, Jesus transformed those false choices into the true sources of life, glory, and happiness. This was the path Jesus had to take before his death on the cross, so that he might show us the way to inherit eternal life.
The Season of Lent is a journey where we discover the root of our miseries and the source of our true happiness, where we all pass through scarcity to enter the fullness of life. This Lent, we are more grateful than ever for what we have had at Our Lady of Mount Virgin/OLMV for the last 111 years. Under the patronage of our beloved Lady brought from Italy, we have been blessed with so many faithful immigrants who have made a journey here to find their promised land while settling in a new land and culture.
Since 1911 this church has been a promised land for Catholics from Europe especially those of Italian descent. We built this Church from the ground up, from one generation to the next, from a place of orchards to a church with school and hall, from a church of Italians to one of Italians, Laotians, Chinese and Vietnamese, from a parish to a parish shared with a preschool and a daycare. The Feast of Our Lady Mount Virgin and Italia Festival continue to ring the spirit of the charism of the founders annually.
In 1975 this church welcomed a new group of Catholic faithful who migrated to Seattle from even further than Italy and Europe. We are from the kingdom of Laos speaking Khmu, Lamed, Hmong, and Laotian. OLMV became a center for job skill and language training for our newcomers who now have settled successfully and who bear witness to the Gospel like the Holy Martyrs of Laos: Blessed Joseph Thao Tien and his 16 Companions.
Starting in 1982 OLMV expanded further to welcome the 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 the Lunar New Year with a Chinese flavor every year. We dig deep into our faith journey and learn about the heroic lives of the Holy Martyrs of China – St. Augustin Zhao Rong and 119 Companions.
Since 2014 this church opened its doors wider to welcome the Catholic faithful from Vietnam who have been settled in the Seattle area since 1975. We come to celebrate the gift our faith with others. We rebuilt the parish with fellow parishioners from the roofs to the grounds, from the exterior to the interior. We restored the Icon of Our Lady of Mount Virgin and placed her at the center of our church. We celebrate the Parish Annual Patroness Feast with the Rosary and a Marian procession in various tongues, followed by various tastes of our culture. We walk in the footsteps of the Holy Martyrs of Vietnam – St. Andrew Dung Lac and 116 Companions.
Since April 2021 in this second pandemic year, we have been called by the Archdiocese of Seattle to embark on a new and drastic journey to address the scarcity of our resources in order to carry out Christ’s ongoing mission to the Promised Land. We have been challenged to merge with other faith communities, to carry on Our Lady of Mount Virgin’s charism in the face of closure, to carry with us our gifts of cultural diversity and stewardship, faith and faithfulness. It has been a journey through the wilderness, indeed.
This 2022 Lent and Easter we are asked to do the extraordinary, to reach out of our misery to plant seeds of happiness on the way. We will prepare to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord with forty days and nights of fasting and prayer. Like the human Jesus in his moments of want, we offer up our lack so that the Word of God may nourish us. Like the prayerful Jesus in the desert, we will elevate our anguished minds for divine revelation. We will turn our longing for our spiritual house into the empty tomb that prepared the risen Lord to walk out into the world. We call upon Our Lady of Mt. Virgin to intercede for our seemingly aimless and circling journey, so that we may settle into the promised land where Our Lady is with her Risen Son our Savior.
Fr. Hung Nguyen
OLMV, pray for us! OLMV, pray for us!