The Asian Catholic community of the Diocese of Cleveland gathered on Oct. 1 at St. Clarence Church in North Olmsted for its annual Mass and reception. Among the nationalities represented were Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Korean, Japanese, Sri Lanka and Vietnamese. Many wore native dress to the Mass.
Auxiliary Bishop emeritus Roger Gries was the principal celebrant. Concelebrants were Father Lennen Deciar, Father Kiran Kumra, Father Augustine Pham Van Lan, Father Guillermo Rubillos, Father Sang-Jun Park and Father Albert Veigas. Deacon Charles Shin assisted at the liturgy.
Theme for this year’s celebration was “Encounter: Openness, Respect, Harmony, Gratitude, Collaboration, Listening.”
The Magnificat was sung in Filipino, Chinese and Tagalog before Mass, and then a member of the Filipino community welcomed the congregation, celebrant and concelebrants on behalf of the entire Asian Catholic community.
Bishop Gries remarked that we hear the call of God in our own languages all over the world.
“But our work is not to earn the love of God for our own gratitude, but for others. God gives us a marvelous recipe for coming together as a human community. We bring many gifts; we are to bring glory to God. You liven up our world and we need you to help us understand how much God loves us. It is amazing how God works,” the bishop said.
He noted that we “are individual heirs of heaven, brothers and sisters in Christ. At baptism, he asked, ‘What name do you give this child?’ Who is the child?” Bishop Gries said it is sad to see people falling away from the gift we have.
“We gather today to thank God for that gift that we received through Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection. We can share the gift of life of the resurrected Christ in the world,” he said.
“We gather as one family – the family of God. We come from different countries, speak different languages, have different families, different foods and customs, but we all come together for one food: the supper of the Lamb of God,” Bishop Gries said.
“God is good all the time because he has given us the gift of Eucharist and we’ll always have life as long as we remember that. You truly are a treasure. You are the flower of life and brighten our lives,” he added.
The liturgy incorporated gifts, traditions, music and languages of the various Asian cultures. The first reading was proclaimed in Korean; the second in Vietnamese and the Gospel was proclaimed in English. Prayers of the Faithful were recited in several languages: Korean, Indian, Sri Lanka, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Filipino.
Music was provided by choirs and musicians from the different nationalities.
After Mass, Sister Rita Mary Harwood, secretary, Parish Life and Development for the Diocese of Cleveland, thanked all who had a role in the celebration, including Bishop Gries, the concelebrants, Deacon Shin, altar servers, musicians, singers, Father Neil Kookoothe and St. Clarence Parish for hosting the event, as well as all who attended.
“Thank you to each person who joined us for this year’s celebration of our faith. You are the ones who make this a celebration and give us so much reason to thank God. Just look around and witness how present and loving God is in his people,” she said.
“You truly are a gift of God, to God and to each other sent forth to spread God’s word to all,” she added.
After Mass, all were invited to the parish pavilion for a variety of Asian foods prepared by the various nationalities and entertainment.