Hundreds of Vietnamese Catholics across the Mississippi Gulf Coast celebrated the Vietnamese New Year or Tet Nguyen Dan the weekend of January 29-30.
Tet, as it is commonly called, marks the arrival of spring based on the lunar calendar. 2011 is the Year of the Cat.
Bishop Roger Morin presided over Tet celebrations at Holy Family Parish in Pass Christian and Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos Parish in Biloxi on Jan. 29 and another at Vietnamese Martyrs Parish in Biloxi on Jan. 30.
Tet, Bishop Morin told parishioners at Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos Parish, is a time to celebrate new beginnings.
“With new beginnings, we have an opportunity to look back and we see that, perhaps, we have not been in every way all that God has called each one of us to be. And we want to look back at that past while leaving it there and learning from it as we go forward,” Bishop Morin said.
“The new days that are given to us as a gift, as God gives us every single day the gift of life, are for us the opportunities and the moment of grace to exercise what needs to be done – that we learn from the past, that we go forward in the future continuing to achieve higher levels of perfection in the Christian life. The gift of time and the new year are given to us as an opportunity for us to continue to grow in the Christian life, to deepen our faith, to draw nearer to one another in Christian community and, of course, nearer to our God.”
Redemptorist Father Jimmy Pham, pastor of Vietnamese Martyrs Parish, said Tet also provides an opportunity for the members of the Vietnamese community remember with love and gratitude the sacrifices of their ancestors.
“Without them, we cannot exist,” Father Pham said. “They brought us into the world and that’s why we commemorate them and love them. Many of them suffered greatly in their lives, so we love them very much.”
Following the Jan. 30 Mass at Vietnamese Martyrs Parish, the bishop, concelebrating priest and parishioners, watched as church elders set off fireworks and teenagers took part in a traditional dragon dance, which is meant to spread good health and wealth.
Printed with permission from Gulf Pine Catholic, newspaper for the Diocese of Biloxi, Miss.