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LA’s Vietnamese American Catholics Mark 45th Anniversary Of First Community Ministry

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Phuong Ma of Simi Valley, left, and Mai Nguyen of Monterey Park mark the 45th anniversary of the Vietnamese American Catholic ministry at the San Gabriel Mission. (Josie Huang/LAist)
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Among those observing Easter Sunday at San Gabriel Mission Church were more than 200 Vietnamese American parishioners with something extra to celebrate.

Forty-five years ago, the first Vietnamese American ministry in Los Angeles County was established at the historic mission. Members chose Easter as their anniversary date.

Bryan Nguyen, a respiratory therapist from Alhambra who chairs the Vietnamese ministry, said it pushed to have sermons in their native tongue.

“For some elderly people, they can go to English mass but the Bible reading, they do not 100% understand,” Nguyen said. “If we have Vietnamese language, they participate 100%.”

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The first large wave of Vietnamese to arrive in Southern California came after the fall of Saigon in 1975. Many found community in Catholic churches.

The Vietnamese American ministry at the San Gabriel Mission is proud of its high rate of volunteering and has been particularly active in fundraising for the mission, which was ravaged by a fire last July.

Nguyen didn’t mention it, but mission spokeswoman Terri Heurta said the Vietnamese American ministry is responsible for about a third of the $300,000 raised so far by the community for the mission’s restoration.

The funds will cover what insurance doesn’t. Work crews are to begin installing a permanent roof on the mission on Monday. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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