The Parish of St Anne and the Vietnamese Catholic Parish in Lancaster have merged into one fellowship of believers and will now be known as St Anne and Our Lady of La Vang Parish.
The merger was made official in a ceremony on Saturday, January 29 at Lancaster Town Church at 929 N. Duke St.
At the Mass, the Rev. Ronald W. Gainer, Bishop of Harrisburg, read an official decree uniting the two communions into one.
The Catholic Vietnamese community in Lancaster was established shortly after arriving in the area after the fall of Saigon in 1975, according to a church press release. The group was recognized by the Harrisburg Diocese and provided pastoral care. Over the years, the group has been assigned as a place of worship to various parishes in Lancaster, but never had a meeting house.
In 2015 Rev. Tri. M. Luong was assigned as pastor of St Anne’s Parish. At the same time he was entrusted with the pastoral care of the Vietnamese congregation in Lancaster.
For the past seven years, the Vietnamese congregation in Lancaster has celebrated services alongside the parishioners of St. Anne. According to a church press release, the arrangement has evolved into a celebration of each other’s traditions and bilingual Masses. They were so coherent, the press release said, that many St. Anne parishioners thought members of the Vietnamese group were also parishioners.
Each group had its own leadership council, and in 2021 discussions began about St Anne’s becoming the permanent home for these parishioners. Luong approached Gainer, who gave approval for the merger.
The name Our Lady of La Vang was chosen by the Vietnamese community of Lancaster, named after a community in Vietnam to whom the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared in 1798 when Catholics in Vietnam were being persecuted and killed.
According to a church press release, there is only one other congregation in the country that has undergone a similar merger — in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.