San Jose Vietnamese Catholic Church burned down in 2012 finally set to reopen

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Saturday, May 13, 2023
SJ Vietnamese Church burned down in 2012 finally set to reopen
More than a decade after it burned down, the Vietnamese Catholic Church, now named Our Lady of La Vang, welcomes the community back in again.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A devastating fire burned down a Vietnamese Catholic Church in San Jose in 2012 leaving thousands without a place to go.

More than a decade later, the church, now named Our Lady of La Vang, welcomes the community back in again.

In the heart of downtown San Jose, a place the Vietnamese Community can call home - Our Lady of La Vang Church.

The beautiful building will finally open its doors to the public this weekend, much to the delight of many in the area including Diocese of San Jose Deacon Dinh Chu.

More than $30 million were raised to support the opening.

"There's no place like home," Deacon Chu said. "I'm very excited and I know thousands and thousands of Vietnamese Catholics are very excited."

Deacon Chu was kind enough to show us around the facility ahead of a weekend full of inauguration festivities.

Including the blessing and unveiling of an Our Lady of La Vang statue, a thanksgiving celebration and a special Mother's Day service.

Thousands of guests from around the world are expected to attend.

"In this environment of our home church, together we not just pray together, give thanks together, but also have a sense of a real community," Deacon Chu said.

It's a feeling Vietnamese parishioners have not felt in a long time here in San Jose.

In 2012, their former church, Saint Patrick's Cathedral, burned down.

Church services continued in locations like school gymnasiums for more than a decade.

"It was quite a struggle because it took a lot of time to set up and have those celebrations and mass at other places," Deacon Chu said. "Now after 11 years, now we have our home church."

A reminder of Saint Patrick's remains outside the church Friday in the form of an original statue, despite the name changing in 2013.

Our Lady of La Vang is the name for a Marian apparition that comforted Catholics in Vietnam in the late 18th century, a time when they were persecuted.

Deacon Chu hopes with this name, this church can be a place of refuge - a welcoming home for the community in San Jose.

"Where we are gathered together, supporting each other," Deacon Chu said. "And I think by the name of Our Lady of La Vang our Vietnamese Catholic feel a sense of quote on quote, really belonging and feeling at home."

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