(Houston, Texas, USA) – The Vice-Province of Extra Patriam (USA) has just celebrated the 21st Annual Conference in honor of Mother of Perpetual Help from June 28-30, 2019, in Houston, Texas (USA) with thousands of people attending.
Three special guests and speakers of this year were: His Excellency Joseph Chau Ngoc Tri, Bishop of LangSon-Cao Bang (VietNam), Father Peter Khai Nguyen (coming from Rome) and Father Peter Linh Nguyen (from the Shrine of St. John Neumann, Philadelphia). This year’s theme was: “Mary, Queen of Martyrs”, in communion with the Church of Vietnam celebrating the 30th anniversary of the canonization of the 117 Vietnamese Martyrs.
The Conference began with a special Novena on Friday evening at 6pm followed by an Opening Outdoor Mass presided by His Excellency Joseph Tri. The Mass was dedicated to the honor of the Vietnamese Martyrs; and an excellent homily was delivered by Father Linh, highlighting the undying spirit of the Vietnamese martyrs who shed their blood for the sake of many future generations. Their unwavering spirit was undoubtedly given and protected by Mary, the Queen of Martyrs, who was always present at their side during the most challenging moments of their lives. The first day was concluded with a special adoration, prayer, praise and healing service which lasted until midnight.
The second day began at 8am with another special Novena and immediately followed by various conferences and talks delivered by Father Peter Khai and Fr. Peter Linh on different themes focusing on the inseparable links between Mary and the Martyrs, and how we can imitate their faith in this modern world. Even though the schedule was tight and lasted a whole day from early morning until midnight, plus the heat and humidity of extreme weather, but the number of people remained surprisingly steady. However, the Marian Procession schedule for Saturday evening had to be postponed and the Mass in honor of Mother of Perpetual Help on the second day had to be celebrated inside the Shrine (due to heavy rains). The Shrine was fully packed to the max. This clearly shows the special love and devotion of many Vietnamese catholics to Mary, Mother of Perpetual Help. This title of Mary (‘perpetual help’) was particularly highlighted by Most Reverend Joseph Tri during his homily which really inspired and touched the hearts of many listeners. He invited all to have at least one icon of Mother of Perpetual Help at home and do not hesitate to run to her for help in time of trials for she will never abandon her children. Again, the second day was also closed with a special adoration, prayer and healing service by Father Michael Nguyen.
Also on this second day of the Conference was the special schedule for MPH Youths and Young Adults Rally which took place alongside with the adults separate schedule. With many different speakers, and specially with the presence of Most Reverend Brendan Cahill, Bishop of Victoria (Texas), who delivered a talk and presided a closing Youth Mass, hundreds of young people gathered enjoying their fellowship and celebrating their faith. It was indeed a memorable experience for all who attended.
The main activities on the third day were the Novena and the Closing Mass which was managed to be celebrated outdoor by Father Peter Bui, the new Vice-Provincial Superior of Extra Patriam. The Marian Procession was also being done beautifully prior to the celebration of closing mass. During his homily, Father Khai invited all to reflect on the readings of the current 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time. With a skilled sense of humors, Father Khai delivered a very inspiring and touching homily in which he invited all, both clergy and lay, to be firm and definitive in following Christ’s footsteps, not for vainglory, not looking back and not with any regrets.
All departed promising to come back for next year’s 22nd Conference which will take place from June 26-28, 2020, with the chosen theme: “Mary, the Messenger of Gospel.”