THE faith of martyrs shone through a crowd of up to 1400 Vietnamese Catholics at Inala in Brisbane last weekend.
Ken Huynh, a volunteer with Brisbane’s Vietnamese Catholic Community, said 1200 chairs were set out for the annual Vietnamese Martyrs Mass on Saturday evening, but they weren’t enough.
“They filled up quickly, and people were standing up; there were probably 1300 to 1400 attending,” he said.
Mary To was among the crowd, and she looked forward to this particular celebration every year.
“We always go as a family,” she said.
“I just want to tell my children, ‘This is your ancestors, and we are celebrating your ancestors’.”
The Mass coincides with the feast of St Andrew Dung-Lac and companions on November 24, in honour of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862.
Mr Huynh said many more Vietnamese people had been martyred for their faith.
“The Vatican estimated the number of Vietnamese martyrs between 130,000 and 300,000 who were killed in the Christian persecutions of the 19th Century,” he said.
Mr Huynh said last weekend’s Mass and celebration in the grounds of the Vietnamese Catholic Community Centre was a joyful occasion.
Archbishop Mark Coleridge, who was principal celebrant, told the congregation the Vietnamese community made a major contribution to the life of the archdiocese and he paid tribute to the community for the strength of its faith.
Mr Huynh said the Archbishop was pleased to see the large number of children and young people attending.
“He encouraged us to keep up the good work and continue giving good example for everybody,” he said.
Ms To said it was a special celebration because it was in honour of the martyrs.
“We are so proud to have Vietnamese (canonised) because when I was little we learned about saints from other countries but, when Pope John Paul II canonised the Vietnamese martyrs (in 1988), we actually had our own saints,” she said.
By Peter Bugden