Monday, December 4, 2006

First Sunday of Advent Celebrated in Hmong at St Vincent De Paul in St Paul

The Roamin' Roman, who enthralled thousands with her fabulous photography and comments during her year of study in Rome, got her degree from St Thomas and now is employed at a St Paul suburban parish. She brought a portion of her Confirmation class to St Vincent de Paul Parish in St Paul which is essentially a Hmong parish now, administered by Father Joseph Johnson, pastor of the Cathedral of St Paul. She commented on AmyWelborn's Open Book blog which regularly asks for descriptions jof liturgies and music from parishes attended by Open Books readers.

This was my first time at this parish for Sunday Mass, though I have been there for Holy Hours during the week. The parish is special in the area because it is the only one that ministers to our large Hmong population - it is also a very poor parish in a poor part of town, and has endured much in the past few years. It also happens to be the secondary parish for our Cathedral's rector (it was his parish assignment before being named rector, and after having worked so hard to build up this very suffering parish, he is still pastor there and it is now a mission parish supported by the Cathedral).
I went here today because I brought a few of my Confirmation students from my suburban parish into St. Paul to participate in a non-suburban Mass (ie, look, there are people out there other than Scandanavian blondes! :) and then to help out the Missionaries of Charity after Mass, teaching Sunday School to the Hmong kids. It was a great experience for them, I will be doing it monthly from now on!
So, this Sunday morning Mass was in both Hmong and English, which I think is typical here. Fr. does not speak Hmong very well, but there are two Hmong deacons. So the deacons' parts and most of the congregation's responses are in Hmong, while the propers and canon are in English. Fr. gives a homily in English and then the deacon gives it in Hmong.
The music was entirely in Hmong - so I have no idea what they sang but it sounded ok, a combo of accapella and organ. I didn't recognize any of the tunes though, and it was a 4 hymn sandwich - but then again, do they even have the antiphons translated into Hmong? (Yes, I know - Latin is the answer. Fr. loves Latin, but you can't build Rome in a day... it shall come one day soon I trust). No Gloria, you'll be happy to hear Fr. Fox!
The wreath was out already, I trust that Fr. blessed it at the Vigil Mass, lit (in proper order :) by a server before Mass.
Homily was great, as usual with this priest - some parts were particular to this parish culture, because the Hmong celebrated their New Year last weekend, and now the Church celebrates her New Year today, and then the civil New Year is a few weeks away still. After expanding on the readings a bit, he went back to the New Year theme and talked about New Year's resolutions - for holiness, not exercise! Daily prayer, Sunday Mass, etc etc. It was well done, interesting enough that even my Confirmation students paid pretty close attention (growl - the problem with youth today is that even the good ones need a fire lit under them!!)
Happy New Year everyone! :)

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